Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can cause disease in many animals, but is common in dogs.
It is an important disease because Leptospirosis can be passed on to humans, where it is known as Weil's disease and can cause kidney failure. It is carried by rats, cows and other animals, and survives in water - hence it is very hard for your dog to avoid exposure. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, diarrhoea, jaundice, and not eating.
Since 2015, we have been offering all dogs a new and improved vaccine against four types (known as 'strains') of Leptospirosis. The previous vaccine protected against 2 strains of Leptospirosis, but recent research has found that there are two new strains of Lepto affecting dogs, and vets are now seeing more dogs infected with the new strains than the old ones. The 'L4' vaccine will protect against all four strains of this deadly disease.
Puppies can also have the new vaccine, which can be given from 8 weeks of age, the second vaccine is 4 weeks later, and they can go out 3 weeks after that.
We no longer offer or recommend the previous Lepto 2 vaccine, as we feel that all dogs should be offered protection against the 4 types of Leptospirosis.
What other diseases are dogs vaccinated against?
Other than Leptospirosis, our routine dog vaccine, made by MSD Animal Health, protects against:
Adenovirus (which causes infectious canine hepatitis and CAV-2
Dogs can also be vaccinated against the main cause of kennel cough, Bordetella bronchiseptica. This disease can be caused by several types of infectious agent, but the worst cases are due to a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica . The kennel cough vaccine protects against this bacteria, and also Parainfluenza virus.
How long does kennel cough (KC) vaccine last, and how is it given?
This vaccine lasts a whole year, and is given by a small squirt of fluid into the nose. The Bordetella part will be effective after 72 hours, but the parainfluenza part takes about 3 weeks to be effective. Therefore, dogs should be vaccinated at least 3 weeks before going into kennels to be fully protected.
Which dogs should be vaccinated against kennel cough?
Dogs catch KC by inhaling droplets (much like people catching a cold), so KC is spread between dogs by coughing and sneezing over each other. Any situation where dogs come in close contact with each other could put them at risk – such as dog kennels, dog shows, training classes, and if they are exercised where lots of other dogs go, such as in a local park. Dogs can be vaccinated against KC from 3 weeks of age. It can be given to pregnant bitches.
When can my puppy have its first routine vaccination?
From 7 weeks of age. The second vaccination is given 4 weeks later (preferably to the day!). It can go out three weeks after the second injection.
We also recommend a third vaccination against Distemper, Parvovirus and Hepatitis at 16 weeks of age, the cost of this additional vaccine is £15. This is advisable as a very small number of dogs will not respond fully to vaccinations at 8 and 12 weeks of age.
Will my dog need more vaccinations after the first course?
Yes, we recommend that all dogs have a primary vaccination course, followed by annual booster vaccinations. The booster should be given within 6 weeks of the due date, otherwise the course may need to be restarted (ie a course of two injections again). The first booster will be against Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvo (DHP) and Leptospirosis, after this your dog will need annual Leptospirosis vaccines but will only be given DHP every three years.
My dog had its puppy vaccinations but hasn’t had any for a while, does he need to start the course again?
Yes, as above, the initial course will need to be given - which will be with the new Leptospirosis vaccine.
My dog is pregnant, can she be vaccinated?
No, you would need to wait until she has had the puppies.
My dog is a rescue, they told me he had been vaccinated but I haven’t got a vaccination card for him, what’s the best course of action?
This situation is surprisingly common, and our recommendation is to start the course again. It is possible to take a blood test to determine if they already have immunity against distemper, adenovirus and parvovirus, but this is expensive and would require further visits to the surgery for vaccination should immunity to any of these diseases be low. For most clients, we do not believe this is a practical option as it involves extra expense and visits to the surgery with little or no benefit to your pet.
Why do dogs need vaccinations every year?
For some of the diseases mentioned above, immunity is short-lived, particularly against Leptospirosis, so dogs need annual vaccinations against Lepto. For other diseases, such as distemper, adenovirus and parvovirus, the immunity lasts longer, so we recommend vaccinating against these diseases every 3 years.
Is there a risk of side effects? I’ve heard that vaccinations can be harmful.
All interventions, whether surgical or medical, have a risk of undesirable effects, and vaccination is no different. However, it is important to understand that the risk of these side effects is very low, less than 1 in 20,000, and the consequences of these are generally short lived and far less serious than if any of the diseases mentioned are contracted. Vaccination of cats and dogs has been a huge success story in veterinary medicine. Diseases that used to be real killers in dogs are prevented by vaccination, and we now only see these diseases in unvaccinated dogs and those whose vaccinations have lapsed. Vaccination also helps prevent other unpleasant diseases such as kennel cough.
So it’s best to vaccinate my dog?
Yes, vaccination is essential to prevent potentially life threatening diseases, so we strongly recommend it. Also, when your dog is vaccinated, it will ALWAYS receive a thorough health check.
Annual check ups are strongly recommended in all animals - don’t forget that animals age must faster than humans, so having an annual check up for your dog is a bit like having a check up with your doctor every 7 years!! Often we detect problems on these annual check overs, such as heart murmurs, teeth/gum disease, ear problems, skin disease (including fleas), lumps, etc - the early treatment of which can be life-saving in some cases. It also gives you the chance to discuss any problems you may be encountering, and to receive advice and up-to-date information about new products or treatments from a highly-trained, dedicated professional, who is committed to helping you and your pet!