What are vaccinations and why does my pet need them?

 Vaccinations are a simple procedure. Vaccinations provide immunity to infectious diseases that can affect both humans and animals. They are not a cure for diseases, but they are a prevention.
The injections contain a weak or man-made version of a disease which triggers your pets body to produce antibodies to fight the disease. Should they catch the same disease in the future, their body will recognise it and fight it off more effectively.

Most boarding or day care facilities require your pet to be up to date on vaccinations to prevent spreading diseases. Some diseases have different strains and can mutate over time, however a vaccinated pet usually suffers milder symptoms and can have a far higher chance of survival than an un-vaccinated pet.

Puppies and kittens will get antibodies from their mothers milk in their first weeks of life, but this natural protection starts to fade after a few weeks and this is when they will need to be vaccinated. Younger pets are at a higher risk of contracting serious diseases. When young animals get sick, these diseases are more likely to be fatal and even if your pet fights it, there's a chance it can cause lifelong health issues. It is important young pets receive their primary vaccinations so that they are fully protected before mixing with other animals. 

After the primary vaccinations, your pet will need regular booster injections throughout their life to maintain their level of protection. Some boosters are needed every year and others every three years. Booster injections are usually administered around the same time every year. If your adult pet has not received regular booster injections or you are unsure about your pets vaccination records, then they may need to start their primary vaccination course again. 

Please speak to your vet if you need more advice on primary or booster vaccinations.




What diseases do we vaccinate against?

Dogs and puppies



Parvovirus (Parvo) is a highly contagious disease that causes severe vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. It is a very serious illness that should not be taken lightly; it can be deadly without treatment. Parvo can be spread by other infected dogs, faeces and contaminated items such as collars, leads, floors, hands and clothes. It can also survive in the environment and soil for up to a year.

Canine distemper

Canine distemper is a contagious virus that attacks a dogs lymph nodes before attacking their respiratory, urinary, digestive and nervous system. It is passed easily between dogs through blood, saliva and urine.


Leptospirosis (Lepto) is a bacterial infection which attacks a dogs nervous system and organs. It is a zoonotic, which means it can be transmitted to humans - we know it as Weils disease. 

Infectious canine hepatitis

Infectious canine hepatitis (ICH) is a viral disease that attacks a dogs liver, kidneys, eyes and blood vessel linings. It is spread through bodily fluids, i.e. urine, saliva, snot, and blood. This disease can also survive in the environment for up to year, is very dangerous and spreads quickly.


Cats and kittens


Cat Flu (Feline Herpes and Calicivirus)

Cat flu is highly contagious. It is spread in discharge, sneezes and items touched by infected cats. If your cat catches cat flu, it's possible that your cat will be a carrier for life. Cat flu causes sneezing, weepy eyes, a runny nose and can make your cat feel very unwell.

Feline infectious enteritis

Feline infectious enteritis is a serious virus that depletes the body's white blood cells and cause severe damage to the lining of the intestines. It is normally spread through infected faeces, but un-vaccinated, pregnant cats can also pass it to their unborn kittens.

Feline chlamydophilosis 

Feline chlamydophilosis (used to be known as Feline chlamydia) usually attacks a cats eyes and nose first. It can progress to affect their lungs, stomach, intestines and reproductive tract. It is passed through direct contact with infected cats and is common in the UK.

Feline leukaemia virus

Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) is a viral infection which can lead to the development of cancers, such as: Lymphoma, leukaemia, tumors and weakens the cats immune system. It is spread through saliva, faeces, urine and milk. Pregnant cats can also pass it to their unborn kittens.





Myxomatosis is a virus that causes severe disease and is usually fatal. It attacks the eyes, skin, lungs and genitals and most rabbits die from Myxomatosis approximately two weeks after developing symptoms. It is spread through insect bites or contact with an infected rabbit.

Rabbit haemorrhagic disease 1 (RHD-1)

Rabbit haemorrhagic disease is caused by a virus which is spread through the air, by insect bites or contact with an infected rabbit. RHD attacks the internal organs and causes massive internal bleeding, which nearly always causes death. A rabbit with RHD-1 is likely to die within two days of catching the disease.

Rabbit haemorrhagic disease 2 (RHD-2)

Rabbit haemorrhagic disease 2 is the same as RHD-1, the only difference is that rabbits with RHD-2 develop symptoms much slower and often die within one-two weeks. Rabbits with RHD-2 are also much more likely to spread the disease because they live for longer with the symptoms. RHD can live in the environment and on equipment for months. 


Non-Core Vaccinations



If you are planning on taking your pet abroad they may need a rabies vaccination (dependent on location). They will not be able to obtain a passport or travel without having the right up-to-date vaccinations, including rabies. Check with your vet before you travel to get advice on what vaccinations, procedures and paperwork your pet will need before travelling and also when coming back into the UK. Rabies is not a problem in the UK, however it is common in other countries.

Kennel cough (dogs only)

Kennel cough is an infection in dogs that affects the throat, airways and lungs. It is caused by bacteria or viruses and is highly contagious. Dogs develop a cough which sounds like they have something stuck in their throat, but other symptoms can include, a runny nose, sneezing and eye discharge. The kennel cough vaccine is not a 'routine' vaccination, although it is recommended if your dog frequently visits boarding or day care facilities.