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Understanding pet diseases and protecting your pet

Find out how to protect your pet from the worst pet diseases

Three dogs sitting on the grass

No responsible pet owner wants their pet to suffer from a pet disease. This guide highlights the most serious pet diseases and how they can be prevented with pet vaccinations.

Prevention better than cure

Just like us, our pets are at risk of catching diseases that can be extremely debilitating and even life threatening.

Sadly if your cat or dog does catch a pet disease, it's likely they'll need veterinary care, which can be very expensive. So when you first bring home your new pet, whether it's a baby or fully grown, make sure their vaccinations are up to date and they have pet insurance.

Vaccinations prevent your pet from some of the worst types of pet diseases.

Why do I need to vaccinate my pet?

Vaccinations prevent your pet from some of the worst types of pet diseases. It means your pet won't need to suffer unnecessarily if they come in to contact with the disease. It also means that they won't pass the disease on to other animals, so helping to control the spread of the disease.

When should I vaccinate my pet?

Most baby animals are protected from disease during the first few weeks of their life due to the immunity their mother passes on through her milk. After the first few weeks though, they should receive their first set of vaccinations..

  • Puppies can receive their first vaccinations from six to nine weeks, depending on when the vet recommends it can be done. The full course of vaccinations is usually completed by the time they reach 12 weeks.
  • It's important to socialise your puppy during this time, but it shouldn’t be allowed out in to public areas or where there are unvaccinated dogs.
  • Kittens should be vaccinated from nine weeks old. With a second dose given around 12 weeks.

Once your pet has been vaccinated, it will need regular boosters throughout its life. Some of these will be annual, whereas others will be a few years apart. These boosters help maintain their immunity.

Which vaccinations will my pet need?

Your pet should be vaccinated against the main pet diseases that affect the type of animal you have.

For dogs these are:

  • Parvovirus. A potentially fatal disease that causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Canine distemper. Can cause seizures and limb weakness.
  • Leptospirosis. A life threatening disease that can lead to organ failure.
  • Adenovirus 1 and 2. A viral disease with two strains.
  • Canine parainfluenza. Highly contagious infection, similar to a cold

Other pet vaccinations your dog may need are kennel cough, particularly if you plan to put your dog in to kennels; and rabies, if you plan to return to the UK after travelling with your pet overseas.

For cats you should vaccinate against:

  • Cat flu
  • Feline infectious enteritis
  • Feline leukaemia virus

If your pet is unfortunate enough to contract one of these diseases, they can be very costly to treat so make sure you have pet insurance in place.

What if my pet is a rescue animal?

If you're unsure whether your pet has been vaccinated because it is a rescue animal or it has been rehomed, speak to a vet.

Most good rehoming charities and rescue centres will vaccinate animals before they go to new homes. They will give you details about the vaccinations your pet has had.

How much do vaccinations cost?

You can expect to pay from £30 to £60 for a course of pet vaccinations. This may sound expensive, but it's much cheaper than treating the disease itself. Vet costs for treating pet diseases can run to hundreds of pounds. It's best to make sure you have both vaccinations and pet insurance in place throughout your pet's life.

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