Why vaccinate?

Why are vaccinations important for pets?

Vaccinations protect pets from potentially deadly diseases.

The injections contain a weak or man-made version of a disease. This triggers your pet’s body to produce antibodies to fight the disease. If they catch the same disease in the future, their body will recognise it and fight it off much more effectively.

Use of vaccinations - or ‘jabs’ - has helped to stop pets getting sick and has saved millions of lives over the last few decades. There are lots of illnesses that used to be common but now are rarely seen by vets, thanks to vaccinations stopping them spreading. If owners stop vaccinating their pets, we’ll see a lot of these rare conditions coming back and more seriously ill pets will be in need of lifesaving treatment.

Find out more about how vaccinations protect your pet:

Primary vaccinations: protecting young pets

It’s important that young pets are vaccinated early to protect them. This is called their ‘primary vaccination course’. Your pet will need two rounds of injections before they’re fully protected and are able to safely mix with other animals.

Young pets are at a much higher risk of catching serious illnesses. When young pets do get ill, these diseases are more likely to be fatal and, even for the lucky pets who fight off the disease, can cause lifelong health issues.

Booster vaccinations: protecting your pet for life

Your pet will need regular booster injections throughout their life to maintain their level of protection. Some boosters are needed every year and others every 3 years. Speak to your vet about when your pet needs their next booster.

If your adult pet hasn’t had regular booster shots or you’re not sure about their vaccination records, they may need to start their primary vaccination course again. Speak to your vet for more advice.


Common myths about vaccination

There are many reasons that people may choose not to vaccinate their pet, and lots of rumours circulating that may have little truth in them. Make sure you know the facts about vaccinations:


Myth – vaccinations aren’t necessary as these diseases are so rare now

Fact – it’s true that cases of these diseases are now less common but this is thanks to widespread vaccination.

Our research shows that more and more pets are going unvaccinated. The danger is that we could see a lot of these rare diseases making a return and harming more pets. That’s because the bacteria and viruses that cause these diseases can remain in our environments, sometimes for years, and when vaccination rates drop the disease can come back.

Myth – Vaccinations aren’t safe

Fact – Vaccinations have been developed and are produced under very strict safety rules. It’s true that, very rarely, some pets have an allergic reaction to some vaccines. However, this is highly unlikely to happen to your pet - thousands of pets are vaccinated every day without a problem. Without treatment, Parvovirus is fatal in as many as 90% of cases. The benefit of vaccination clearly outweighs the risk.

Myth – vaccinations are too expensive

Fact – There is a cost to vaccination and this can vary depending on where you live. However, if you don’t vaccinate and your pet does get sick, the cost of treatment can run into hundreds of pounds and will cause your pet pain and suffering.

Many vets run special offers for vaccinations or lapsed boosters, or even special puppy and kitten starter packages. Ask your vet or ring around to find out what deals are available in your area, and you could save some money while still protecting your pet.

Myth – boosters aren’t necessary

Fact - to ensure that your pet is protected against serious diseases it’s important that they have regular boosters. Some diseases need to be vaccinated against every year, some less frequently and some more frequently depending on whether your pet is a cat, dog or rabbit and depending on which diseases are the biggest risk in your area. Speak to your vet to find out when your pet needs their next vaccination.

Myth – pets can still get the illness even if vaccinated, so there’s no point

Fact – it is possible for vaccinated pets to be affected by certain diseases as many viruses have different strains and can mutate over time. However, a vaccinated pet usually suffers much milder symptoms, and can have a far higher chance of survival than an unvaccinated pet.

Myth – puppies and kittens get all the antibodies they need from their mother’s milk, so don’t really need vaccinations

Fact – very young puppies and kittens will get antibodies from their mum in their first few weeks of life. However, this natural protection starts to fade after a few weeks and this is when they’ll need to be vaccinated. If their mum hasn’t been vaccinated herself then this may increase the risk of certain illnesses. Young pets’ immune systems are not fully developed until they are around six-months-old, so they are particularly susceptible to diseases while young.

Myth - vets only recommend vaccinations to make money

Fact - A vet’s top priority is the health and wellbeing of your pet. The weight of scientific evidence points to the fact that vaccinations are safe and effective at preventing many potentially deadly diseases. Vaccinations have saved countless lives. If you are concerned about vaccinating your pet then we’d always recommend discussing this with your vet, so they can talk through options with you and hopefully put your mind at rest.

For pets who sadly catch diseases such as parvo or leptospirosis, it can result in vets’ bills that can run into thousands of pounds, as they require round-the-clock intensive care.

Myth - is vaccinating against lepto (Leptospirosis) dangerous?

Fact - The government body responsible for monitoring veterinary medicines state that the incidence of suspected adverse reactions for leptospirosis vaccinations is rare. You can read more about this on the Government’s website: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/leptospira-vaccination-in-dogs We would also recommend that dog owners concerned about some reports they may have seen on social media about this to talk to their vet about what is best for their pet.

Myth - why do dogs have the same amount of vaccine, regardless of the dog’s size?

Fact- A vaccination dose is not dependent on the size of the dog (or cat or rabbit). Each dose given is the minimum amount needed to stimulate an immune response in the patient.