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Vaccinations help protect pets and populations against deadly diseases.


Controlling infectious disease is a primary concern for veterinarians. And vaccinations - along with nutrition, environment control, and stress reduction - play a vital role in reducing exposure to nasty pathogens.

Vaccinations can help protect pets against deadly diseases. They help the body create antibodies to fight viruses and bacteria that pets may come in contact with. Vaccines can help keep pets from contracting diseases particularly those that can be fatal.

Goals of vaccination:

  • To protect the individual animal from disease
  • To protect the population from disease
  • To prevent disease in people (zoonoses)


Vaccination occurs in a series of vaccines to ensure the puppies receive high levels of immunity. A series of 2-3 vaccinations are required to overcome any immunity that may be interfered by any maternal antibodies that may be in their system.

Puppy series

The first vaccination usually occurs between 6 - 9 weeks of age and repeated every 2-3 weeks with the last one around 10 - 16 weeks of age or older.


The first booster is required 6 -12 months after the puppy series. Then depending on the vaccine, boosters are required every 1-3 years.

Your veterinarian can best select the vaccination program that is suited to your pet's health and lifestyle and locality.

Common diseases that can be prevented by vaccination:

Parvovirus Deadly virus that causes bloody diarrhoea and occasionally heart disease in puppies
Distemper Deadly virus that causes a variety of signs including coughing, diarrhoea, seizures, blindness
Hepatitis Deadly virus that causes permanent damage to the liver
Kennel cough (Bordetella, parainfluenza) Highly contagious pathogens that cause respiratory disease

All dogs receive the 'core' vaccinations of Parvovirus, Distemper and Hepatitis. This is commonly referred to as the C3 vaccination. Depending on the pet's health and lifestyle and local area, they may receive the Kennel Cough vaccination in the C4 (C3 plus Parainfluenza) or C5 (C4 plus Bordetella) as well.

To help prevent your puppy from picking up a virus, it is recommended that if you are wanting to walk your pet or take them to public areas such as puppy school, it is important that it has had its first vaccination and that the school requires all puppies to be vaccinated. If your puppy has not had its 14-16 weeks vaccination, and you want to take it for a walk, it is best to take them on the cement pavement where direct sunlight would have killed the virus. A shady park is ideal for picking up the Parvovirus and should be avoided until your pet is fully vaccinated!


Despite the safety record of animal vaccines, reactions can occur. They can be local or generalised, mild or severe. It is important to be aware of some potential reactions so that you can identify and react appropriately if it is to happen to your pet.

Non-specific reactions

  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Inflammation at the injection site

These types of reactions usually disappear after 24-48 hours. If they persist or get worse, seek veterinary attention immediately.

More serious reactions:

  • Swelling of face, muzzle and ears
  • Immunosuppression
  • Autoimmune reactions
  • Anaphylaxis and collapse


On rare occasions, pets can become ill even if they have been vaccinated. Such failure can occur when:

  • Maternally derived antibodies neutralised the vaccination
  • Contact with large amounts of virus before the vaccination has kicked in
  • Inadequate production of an immune response necessary for protection
  • Infection with a different strain of virus to which it has been vaccinated
  • Incomplete vaccination series where immunity wanes
  • Compromised immune system where the pet cannot fight the infectious agent

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