Dog Healthcare

Basic Schedule

 Vaccines

 Puppy vaccines from 8 weeks with second vaccine 4 weeks later. 

Annual boosters.

 Fleas & Worms

 Monthly Advocate spot-on and tapeworm tablet every 6 months

Vaccinations

Many clients will be unfamiliar with killer diseases such as canine parvovirus and canine distemper.  They were a frequent cause of death in dogs until the 1980s.  Since vaccines were developed the incidence of these and other infectious diseases have diminished greatly but have not disappeared.  In fact parvo cases are regularly reported in certain parts of the UK, usually in unvaccinated dogs.  One can probably compare this to measles in children which is on the increase due to poor vaccine uptake during the past decade.

Let’s briefly look at how vaccines work: weakened strains of virus that will still stimulate an immune response but not cause disease are selected in a laboratory.  These strains are tested according to strict protocols to ensure that they work while still being safe.  When an animal is injected with the live attenuated virus in the vaccine, the animal’s immune cells will recognise these viruses as ‘not belonging’ and hence produce antibodies to neutralise the viruses.  These antibodies will protect the animal against the diseases it was vaccinated against.  Over time the antibody level drops off hence the need for booster vaccinations.  Viruses change over time and it is important for vaccine manufacturers to produce vaccines that will give protection for the naturally occurring strains.

Modern vaccines are commonly combination vaccines which means they protect against several diseases simultaneously.  Puppies should have two vaccines to stimulate their immune system.  Protocols vary depending on the brand of vaccine used, but we administer the first dose from seven weeks of age and the second dose three to four weeks later.  In certain high risk areas a third dose at 16 weeks is recommended.  We do not feel that this is necessary in the Tonbridge area at the present time.

The diseases we vaccinate against are:

  • Canine Distemper virus
  • Canine Parvo virus
  • Canine Adenovirus type 2 (Infectious hepatitis)
  • Canine Parainfluenza virus
  • Leptospirosis

Booster vaccinations are required every year for parainfluenza and leptospirosis and every third year for the others.  Booster vaccinations are combined with a full clinical examination and health check.  This is important to ensure that health problems are diagnosed and discussed at an early stage.

Kennel cough is a highly infectious disease characterised by a hacking cough.  Most kennels will insist that your dog be vaccinated against this infection prior to staying in kennels.  We recommend that this is done about two weeks prior to a kennel stay and also consider protecting your dog prior to training classes or if he/she regularly meets dogs on walks.  The vaccine takes the form of drops administered into your dog’s nostril and should be given at least 72 hours prior to a kennel stay (if you forgot to do it earlier).  Immunity lasts for a year, thus annual vaccination is advised and can be combined with the normal booster if desired.

Side effects are very rare and most often take the form of a firm painless swelling at the injection site.  This will usually resolve within a fortnight and does not require treatment.  As always you may find many scare-stories on the internet but these have little or no base in fact and should not prevent you from protecting your pet against these diseases.

External Parasites

The most troublesome parasite is the annoying little flea.  These biting parasites can cause tremendous irritation to pets and owners alike and are best controlled by a two-pronged approach.  In addition to treating your dog with a licensed product, you should also treat the home.  The flea life cycle takes as little as 15 days in summer and a flea can produce 50 eggs per day.  Ten fleas under ideal conditions can multiply to a ¼ million eggs in as few as 30 days.  Flea eggs and pupae can survive three years in your home!

Ticks are an occasional problem, usually picked up from walking through tall grass near sheep and deer.  Certain parts of the UK have high densities of ticks (South West and Scotland) and it is best to seek guidance from your veterinary surgeon regarding suitable products if you plan to holiday in these areas.  A special tool with which to remove attached ticks from your dog is available from the surgery. This would avoid leaving the mouth parts in your dog’s skin causing severe inflammation.

Lice and mange mites are relatively uncommon parasites but we do see cases of fox mange (sarcoptes) and ear mites occasionally.

Many different effective products exist to prevent and/or treat these parasitic infestations and it is outside the scope of this text to go into the innumerable variations possible.  It is important to discuss your pet’s lifestyle and your personal preferences with your veterinary surgeon or nurse who has the knowledge and training to suggest a tailor-made strategy.  Most commonly we would recommend spot-on type products such as ‘Advocate’ to control external parasites on your pet.

Internal Parasites

Many types of worms are a potential threat to your dog. It is important to realise that certain types of worms are also a risk to human health, especially small children, and the importance of worming your pet cannot be overemphasised.

Worms come in various shapes and sizes; roundworms and tapeworm segments may be visible in your dog's faeces but hookworms and whipworms may not be readily visible. With the abundant fox population being a natural reservoir for worms, it must be assumed that dogs are likely to become infected on a regular basis since we all know how indiscriminate their tastes are!

A relatively new parasite called "French heartworm" (also known as lungworm) is becoming an increasingly common cause of disease in dogs. Found in fox faeces these worms pass into slugs and snails and then into your dog when it eats a slug or snail. Some other mode of infection is suspected but has not been identified as yet. These worms will move to your dog's lungs and heart and can cause serious disease, even death. Since the life cycle of this worm can be completed in 30 days it is important to worm your pet monthly with a product that has been tested to be effective (only two products currently). Perhaps you would like to find out more at www.lungworm.co.uk

Most people still follow the old rule of worming their dog once every three months. It is important to realise that this does not stop worms from maturing and producing eggs which are excreted in your dog's faeces. It is therefore important to pick up your dog's faeces even from your own garden. There is no doubt that we should be encouraging regular monthly worming of our dogs, this is especially important if you have a toddler/young child or if such children will visit your home. With the increased risk of lungworm a monthly wormer is essential in order to prevent disease.

We would suggest that you discuss any questions with a veterinary surgeon or nurse. Worming tablets are usually easy to give to dogs. One can administer the tablet directly into the dog's mouth or hide it in a snack or food. The spot-on "Advocate" mentioned above will protect against all types of worms except for tapeworm. A tablet to treat for tapeworm should be administered at least every 6 months if you decide to use "Advocate" which is a cost-effective and easy way of treating internal and external parasites on your dog.