Dog Health

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Cat Health

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Vaccinations in Cats

At Alma Vets, we are all only too aware how common cat flu and feline enteritis is in unvaccinated cats are. Cat flu is not just a heavy cold – it can, and does kill.

Feline enteritis is a dangerous illness with a very high mortality rate – cats and kittens who contract this literally slough the lining to their bowel.

We strongly recommend that all kittens have a primary vaccination course at 9 and 12 weeks for these easily preventable diseases.

Any cat who will be allowed access to the outside is at risk from FeLV infection. This virus can cause severe illness and death – including leukaemia, tumours and anaemia.

Again, it is easily prevented by vaccination – something we believe is vital for all indoors/outdoors cats. Thankfully we are seeing less of this disease these days – something which is due entirely, we believe, to increased vaccine usage.

Feline Aids infection is very prevalent – there is no vaccine to prevent this infection which is passed on by cat bites (there is no known human health risk from this virus).

Early neutering minimises fighting, and is the best prevention we have at the moment from this debilitating infection.

Vaccinations in dogs

Dogs are prone to a number of infectious diseases, some of which can be protected against by vaccination.
Routine vaccination offered by us when you obtain a puppy usually includes protection against all of the diseases mentioned below.

We advise an initial vaccination at 8 weeks and a second vaccination 2 weeks later at 10 weeks. Yearly vaccinations are then required and we sign your vaccination certificate which you will receive with the first vaccinations. These diseases include:

A serious and frequently fatal virus infection which used to be very common, but has now been largely eliminated by vaccination. The virus attacks all the body systems, but damage to the nervous system is most persistent, leaving the dog prone to fits and paralysis.

Canine Contagious Hepatitis
A virus infection which attacks mainly the liver, which can kill your dog in the acute stage, or may cause chronic liver damage.

Canine Parvovirus
Another virus infection which appeared suddenly throughout the world in the 1960’s when it was characterised by acute and fatal heart failure in young puppies.

It now takes the form of an acute gastro-enteritis, with severe vomiting and passing of blood in the stools. It is highly contagious, and usually fatal. Black and tan breeds such as Rottweilers and Dobermanns appear to have a higher risk of contracting this virus.

The virus can survive for many months in surroundings where an ill dog has been kept and is carried under feet and by direct contact.

Canine Parainfluenza
Canine Parainfluenza virus is one of the causative agents of Tracheobronchitis or Kennel Cough. It causes a harsh irritating cough in dogs. (There is also an intranasal vaccine that we give to dogs which is against another component of Kennel Cough - see below).

None of the above illnesses pose any risk to humans in contact with sick animals.

Two common forms of Leptospirosis affects dogs:

L. canicola and L. icterohaemorrhagica. Both affect liver and kidneys, and jaundice is often a symptom. Infected animals excrete the organisms in urine, and both forms are highly infective to humans who may come into contact with infected urine. If treated in the early stages of an infection, antibiotic treatment is usually successful.

Kennel Cough intranasal Vaccination
All good boarding facilities insist that a vaccination policy is enforced. For dogs, there is an additional requirement for a Kennel Cough vaccination.

This can be given as late as three days before entry to kennels, but for maximum benefit we would prefer it given at least two weeks in advance.

These days we have a new, broader spectrum, vaccine which induces immunity for 12 months, and therefore we more often than not give this along with the annual booster vaccination, thus saving you time and money.

This vaccination is given in the form of droplets that are squirted in your dog's nostril.

Vaccinations in Rabbits

History of Myxomatosis

The Myxomatosis virus originates from South America where it causes a mild disease in the wild rabbit population. European rabbits had been introduced to Australia by early colonists but by the 1950’s the rabbit population was out of control as they had no natural enemy. In an attempt to reduce rabbit numbers the Myxomatosis virus was intentionally introduced to Australia. By accident the virus was also introduced into Europe killing off the wild rabbit population.

How is it spread?

The virus is spread by direct or indirect contact but most often by parasites. The rabbit flea, mosquito and flies are the most important methods of spreading the virus.


- Swelling of the genitals and of the head, especially the eyelids which results in blindness.

- The rabbit’s appetite remains normal until shortly before death which is on average 11-13 days after infection. You may have seen wild rabbits in late summer just sitting on the side of the road in country areas. A heart-breaking sight as they literally starve to death as their mouths and lips swell so much and they cannot see or smell their food.

- There are other forms of the disease that result in respiratory symptoms that can be very difficult to differentiate from other causes of pneumonia such as Pasteurellosis.

Treatment and Prevention

Affected rabbits cannot be treated. To prevent suffering, euthanasia is the only option.

To control the spread of the disease it is important to:

- Disinfect hutches but make sure that the disinfectant used is not harmful to rabbits. Good hygiene will keep flies away, so clean hutches regularly.

- Flea control in the form of spot-on will control rabbit fleas and mosquitoes. Advantage (which we stock) can be used in rabbits as well as a new formulation for rabbits, guinea-pigs and ferrets called Xeno spot on.

- If you are in an area near a lake or pond, then mosquito control is more important and you may even have to use a mosquito net over the hutch during hot summer evenings. Dry bedding will also discourage mosquitoes.

Vaccination is the best form of control. We use a vaccine which can be given to rabbits as young as 5 weeks and it produces an immunity 2 weeks after vaccination. An annual vaccination is given and the best time to give it is in May or June.