Responsible pet care requires puppies to be taken to the vet for their initial course of vaccinations, but this cannot protect them for the rest of their lives. The immunity weakens over time and your pet can again become susceptible to disease.
Should your pet become infected, treatment can require frequent visits to your vet and possibly hospitalisation.
However not all diseases can be cured and disability or death may result. The only practical means of protection is vaccination!
When should your dog be vaccinated?
Puppies will be 'temporarily' protected against many diseases by antibodies received through their mother's milk. These maternal antibodies decline in the first few months of a puppy's life, however until they drop sufficiently they can neutralise vaccines. This is why a series of vaccines is necessary.
Under normal conditions the recommendation would be for an initial course of vaccination visits as specified by your veterinarian. Thereafter, booster vaccinations as recommended by your veterinarian and annual health checks will provide the best protection for the life of your pet.
After vaccination care
After vaccination your dog may be lethargic and off its food for a day or two, or have some slight swelling or tenderness at the injection site. Access to food and water and a comfortable area to rest are usually all that is required for a quick recovery. However, if the response seems more severe, you should contact your veterinarian for advice.
Dangerous infectious diseases that can affect your dog.
Canine parvovirus is a disease that affects dogs of all ages but is most serious in young pups and older dogs. The virus attacks the intestines causing blood stained diarrhoea, uncontrollable vomiting and severe abdominal pain. Dogs often die from severe dehydration despite intensive veterinary care.
It is not necessary to have direct contact with other dogs for the disease to be spread. The virus is so persistent that the infected dog's environment needs to be cleaned with a potent disinfectant to prevent spread to other dogs. Outbreaks occur regularly throughout Australia, especially in summer.
Canine distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that can affect dogs of any age with young puppies being at highest risk.
Symptoms vary but can include fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and depression. Muscle tremors, fits and paralysis usually occur later in the disease. Treatment is usually ineffective and the recovery rate very low.
Dogs that do recover may have permanent brain damage.
Canine hepatitis is a viral disease which, like distemper is extremely contagious and often fatal. Dogs of any age can become infected, however severe cases are rare in dogs over two years of age.
Symptoms include high fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and acute abdominal pain. In severe cases death can occur within 24 to 36 hours. Dogs that recover may develop long term liver and kidney problems and can act as carriers spreading the disease to other dogs for many months.
Canine cough is a condition produced by several highly infectious diseases, which can be easily spread wherever dogs congregate, such as parks, shows, obedience schools and boarding kennels. Among the infectious agents associated with canine cough is the bacterium known as Bordetella bronchiseptica and the canine viruses parainfluenza, adenovirus type 2 and distemper.
Affected dogs have a dry hacking cough which can persist for several weeks. It is distressing for pet dogs and their owners. It is a major problem for working and sporting dogs. Pneumonia can also be a consequence of infection.
Canine coronavirus is another contagious virus and causes depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea especially in young dogs. Diarrhoea may last for several days in some cases. Although most dogs will recover with treatment, coronavirus has the potential to be fatal, especially if other infectious agents such as parvovirus are present.
Canine leptospirosis is a serious disease risk in some areas and can cause high death rates. It is spread by the urine of rats and is usually transmitted to dogs by contaminated food and water, or by rat bites.
There's an increased risk where high rat populations exist such as rubbish dumps or green sugar cane cutting areas. Incidence can also increase after long periods of wet weather, when rat populations are forced to move or concentrate. Leptospirosis is an animal disease that can be passed to humans who may then suffer a persisting "flu like" illness.
What is heartworm disease?
Heartworm (Dirofliaria immitis) is spread by mosquitoes and has the potential to cause heart failure and death. Your pet does not have to be in contact with other dogs to develop this disease.
More than 65% of the dog population in Australia lives in high heartworm expectancy areas.
Now, with just one easy dose, your pet can be protected all year round. Before a puppy is 12 months old, treatments may be given more often.
Once-A-Year Heartworm Protection is administered by your vet and takes away the risk of forgetting monthly or daily dosing. Simply arrange to treat your dog as a part of the annual health check, and you can forget about heartworm... for a whole year!
The heartworm lifecycle
* Carrier mosquitoes infect healthy dogs while sucking blood.
* Larvae develop in tissues and migrate to the heart where they mature to adult worms.
* Fertilised adult female heartworms release microfilariae into the blood.
* Mosquitoes ingest microfilariae while suckingblood from infected dogs.
It may only take a single bite from a carrier mosquito to infect your dog. The mosquito infects your dog with heartworm larvae as it feeds on your dog's blood. These larvae then migrate through your dog's tissues to the heart and adjacent blood vessels of the lungs where they grow into adult worms.
In the early stages of heartworm infection, there may be no outward signs of disease.
Your vet may recommend a simple blood test before starting heartworm protection for the first time, or if doses have been missed, or as part of your dog's annual check-up.