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Why vaccinating your pet could save their life

As pet parents, there are lots of things we worry about when it comes to keeping our fur-babies safe: ‘Is the gate locked?’, ‘Are there any holes in my fence?’, ‘Should my cat eat that?’ Most of the time, the worries stem from leaving pets on their own and what they’ll get up to while we’re gone.

What we sometimes forget is that there are dangers to our buddies when they’re right there with us: spending time outdoors, playing at the dog park, on a walk.

Invisible, dangerous diseases that can be debilitating, or deadly, if your pet is not vaccinated.

Here, Doctor Bronwen Slack of PETstock VET explains why it is vital to keep your pet’s vaccinations up to date and how you can prevent your pet from contracting deadly diseases.

“Vaccinations can help protect your puppy, dog, kitten or cat from some of the most dangerous diseases in the animal world,” says Dr Bronwen. “The scary thing is that these diseases are highly contagious – they can be spread by a simple cough or by close contact with another pet.”

If you’re thinking your unvaccinated pet will be safe from diseases simply by avoiding sick pets, think again. “Infectious viruses and bacteria can be left behind where a sick animal coughed or sneezed and if your pet then sniffs or licks that area soon after, they may be vulnerable to infection,” says Dr Bronwen.

What do Dog and Cat Vaccinations Actually Do?

Vaccinations contain inactive strains of certain viruses or bacteria and help your pet’s immune system create antibodies to fight off the same virus or bacteria should they ever come in contact with it again.

Dog Vaccinations

In Australia, dog vaccinations help protect your dog or puppy from:

  • Canine Parvovirus
    Highly contagious, puppies are most at risk of this severe, debilitating disease. Signs include vomiting, bloody diarrhoea, severe abdominal pain and possibly death. The virus can remain in the environment for over 12 months.
  • Canine Distemper
    Highly contagious and often fatal, Canine Distemper affects dogs of all ages by attacking the nervous system. Signs include fever, discharge from the eyes and nose, breathing difficulties, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle spasms and convulsions. Dogs that recover may have permanent brain damage or paralysis.
  • Canine Hepatitis
    Highly contagious, this virus can be contracted through contact with urine, faeces or the saliva of an infected dog and can cause liver damage or death. Puppies are most at risk and signs include fever, clouding of the eyes (‘blue eye’), depression, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain caused by liver enlargement.
  • Canine (Kennel) Cough
    A complex disease caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria, Canine Cough is easily spread between dogs in close contact, such as at the park, beach, or a boarding kennel. Signs include a severe chesty cough, coughing up phlegm and gagging or dry vomiting.

Cat Vaccinations

In Australia, cat vaccinations help protect your cat from:

  • Canine Parvovirus
    Also known as Feline Parvovirus or Feline Panleukopaenia, this virus is highly contagious and spreads rapidly. Virus particles can survive in the environment and cats that recover remain contagious for a long time. Signs include depression, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration and severe abdominal pain – potentially death. Kittens are most at risk. If a pregnant cat contracts this virus her kittens may be born with co-ordination problems due to the virus affecting development of their nervous systems.
  • Feline Respiratory Disease (Cat Flu)
    This disease affects cats of all ages and spreads easily through coughing or sneezing. It is caused by two viruses: Feline Calicivirus and Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis. Signs include coughing, sneezing, discharge from nose and eyes, decreased appetite, ulcers on the tongue and conjunctivitis (inflammation of eyelids). Cats that recover continue to carry the virus in their system and become reinfected during times of stress, such as moving house.
  • Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)
    Causing significant disease in cats, this virus can be transmitted by infected cats for years after they were initially infected. Symptoms include decreased appetite, weight loss, anaemia, vomiting, diarrhoea, reproductive problems and increased risk of other infections and tumours.
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV / Feline Aids)
    Usually passed from one cat to another through bites or scratches, FIV weakens your cat’s immune system and leaves them vulnerable to deadly infections. If your cat is allowed out of the house and has contact with other cats, it’s important they’re protected. It is believed that up to one quarter of cats in Australia are positive of FIV, so the chances of your cat meeting an FIV positive cat are quite high. Vaccinating your cat can help protect them from this dangerous virus.
  • Feline Chlamydiosis
    Easily transferred between cats and most commonly seen in young kittens, this disease affects the eyes and can be common in a multi-cat household. It causes the inner lining of the eyelids (the conjunctivae) to become swollen and inflamed, and can also cause sneezing and nasal discharge. Vaccination can significantly help reduce the severity of the disease.


The Rabies virus is not present in Australia and does not need to be vaccinated against.

Dog and Cat Vaccination Schedule

“If you’re the parent of a new puppy or kitten, they’ll require three initial vaccinations at eight, 12 and 16 weeks of age. From then on, they’ll require a yearly booster vaccination for life, to ensure they’re fully protected.” Says Dr Bronwen.

After their first vaccination, it’s considered safe for your pup to visit controlled environments, like puppy school, as long as all other puppies are all vaccinated and wormed. It is advised to avoid socialising your puppy with any unvaccinated dogs until at least five days after their third vaccination. Kittens should be kept indoors until they’re fully vaccinated.

PETstock VET clinics are equipped to vaccinate your pet with vaccinations that are made to the highest standards of safety and effectiveness.

If you’re unsure about your pet’s vaccination status, chat with your vet for a recommendation.

The common types of vaccinations for dogs include:

  • C3 Dog, covering parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis
  • C5 Dog, covering parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, bordatella

The C5 vaccination is the most common option for puppy owners and required by most boarding kennels and dog clubs.

The common types of vaccinations for cats include:

  • F3, covering enteritis, calicivirus and rhinotracheitis
  • F4, covering enteritis, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis and chlamydiosis

How much will it cost to vaccinate my dog or cat?

The cost of vaccinating your dog or cat will depend on the practice and vaccinations being administered.

Pop in to your local PETstock VET clinic to chat with a team member about this in more detail.

“Vaccinating your pet is the best way to keep them safe from diseases that can make them very sick or even take their life,” says Dr Bronwen.

“After their initial course of injections, it’s important that your fur-baby receives an annual booster vaccination; not only will your yearly appointment give you an opportunity to chat with your vet and discuss any other health or behavioural concerns you may have, it’ll help ensure you and your buddy continue to live a long and happy life together!”

In addition to vaccinating your dog or cat, ongoing health care should include keeping their worm treatment up to date.

Dog Worming Care Cat Worming Care