Dog Vaccination

Vaccination has revolutionised control of infectious disease in our pets. It is essential that all pets are adequately vaccinated to help protect the pet population as a whole. Responsible pet care requires puppies to be given their initial course of vaccinations, but this cannot protect them for the rest of their lives. Adult dogs require regular vaccination to maintain immunity against disease.




Puppy Vaccination


Puppies are ‘temporarily’ protected against many diseases by antibodies received through their mother’s milk. These maternal antibodies decline in the first few months of their lives, however until they drop sufficiently they can also neutralise vaccines. This is why a series of vaccinations is necessary in a puppy.


We recommend that puppies be vaccinated against Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper and Canine Hepatitis. Depending on the circumstances under which your puppy will live (attending obedience training, boarding in dog kennels, and living in certain types of urban environments) we may also recommend that vaccinations against Canine Kennel Cough be incorporated into your pup's vaccination protocol. The following is our recommended puppy vaccination protocol:


  • 6-8 weeks of age - Canine Distemper, Canine Hepatitis and Canine Parvovirus
  • 12-14 weeks of age - Canine Distemper, Canine Hepatitis and Canine Parvovirus +/- Canine Kennel Cough
  • 16-18 weeks of age - Canine Distemper, Canine Hepatitis and Canine Parvovirus +/- Canine Kennel Cough.



Adult Dog Vaccination


The immunity from puppy vaccination weakens over time and your pet can again become susceptible to disease. Annual health checks and booster vaccinations, as required, will provide the best protection for the life of your pet.


We recommend that your dog receive an annual booster vaccination against Canine Distemper, Canine Hepatitis and Canine Parvovirus, and if it is part of the initial vaccination protocol, Canine Kennel Cough. At the same time you dog will receive a full health check.


After Vaccination Care


Following vaccination your dog may be off-colour for a day or two, or have some slight swelling or tenderness at the injection site. Access to food and water and a comfortable area to rest are usually all that is required for a quick recovery. However, if the response seems more severe, you should contact us for advice. Side effects are not that common but it's best to be prepared. Rarely do they cause any major problems.


Please give us a call to discuss a suitable vaccination regime for your pet puppy or dog and we will tailor a programme that will suit your pet's needs.




Canine Parvovirus


What is Canine Parvovirus disease?


Canine parvovirus is a disease that affects dogs of all ages but is most serious in young pups and older dogs. The virus attacks the intestines causing blood-stained diarrhoea, uncontrollable vomiting and severe abdominal pain. Dogs often die from severe dehydration despite intensive veterinary care.


How is it transmitted?


The virus is shed in the faeces (stools) of infected dogs. Transmission is orally after a dog ingests contaminated faeces from infected dogs after coming into contact with infected soil, bedding and other objects that have been exposed to contaminated faeces.


The virus is very resistant to environmental conditions such as heat and cold, wet and dry. It can survive for between 12-18 months in an environment where an infected dog has been.


How does the disease develop?


After localising in the lymph nodes, the virus spreads throughout the body.


The onset of symptoms occurs 7-10 days after infection (sometimes more rapidly depending on the breed of dog and the degree of exposure) and infected dogs can die within 48-72 hours if not treated once symptoms appear.


It is not necessary to have direct contact with other dogs for the disease to be spread. It's possible to carry the virus into your pet's environment on your shoes, the wheels of cars or any other objects that may have come into contact with contaminated materials. Dogs that never leave the yard and are not vaccinated are in fact far more susceptible to picking up the disease than dogs that are vaccinated and get to go for walks and park playtime.


Isolation offers no real protection against the disease.


What are the signs of Parvoviral infection?


Parvovirus has two distinct presentations:


  • the intestinal form - the one that is most commonly and obviously seen by owners and veterinarians - it manifests as depression; loss of appetite; fever; bloody, watery diarrhoea with or without blood; vomiting with or without blood; abdominal pain and eventually collapse and death; and


  • the cardiac form - more insidious it causes respiratory and cardiovascular failure - this form of the disease often shows up as a sudden death some months down the line after an apparently successful treatment and recovery from the intestinal form of the disease or it can cause sudden death in pups less than 8  weeks of age. If it is picked up in young pups it will show up as crying, difficulty in breathing, gasping for breath, irregular heartbeat and an unwillingness to nurse.


How is the disease diagnosed?


Parvovirus produces a very distinctive smell to the bloody faeces of infected dogs which is almost a 100% giveaway that a patient has the disease. Diagnosis can be confirmed by a simple test that we can carry out right here in our clinic using a sample of faeces from an infected dog. The test can be done on the spot.


How is the disease treated?


Patients are hospitalized and administered intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration; pain relief; drugs to prevent vomiting and antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infections. Treatment can be prolonged and recovery is not guaranteed.


A dog that successfully recovers remains contagious for between 3-6 weeks shedding virus in its faeces. Because of this fact, it is important not to allow your dog access to public areas for a period of at least 2 months and he should also be kept away from other puppies and unvaccinated dog during thisperiod of time. Regular washing with a gentle, soapy shampoo will help to remove some of the virus load during this period.


How can the disease be prevented?


Outbreaks of Parvovirus occur regularly throughout Australia, especially in summer. In our district at our clinic we tend to see most cases of our cases of Parvovirus during the months of December through to March.


The virus is so persistent that an infected dog’s environment needs to be cleaned with a potent disinfectant to prevent the disease spreading to other dogs.


Household bleach is a very effective tool - a 1 part bleach to 30 parts water solution can be used to decontaminate surfaces if contact is maintained for at least 10 minutes.


While Parvovirus is tough, sunlight and low humidity will inactivate the virus much faster than cool, moist, shady conditions. Parvovirus will not live indoors for more than a month or two however you should still thoroughly clean any areas where an infected dog has been - having carpets steam cleaned, throwing away all bedding, dog collars, coats and toys that cannot be sterilized in a sealed plastic garbage bag and using the bleach solution recommended above to treat food bowls, beds and other implements belonging to the infected dog will eliminate the prospect of the virus being spread by fomites.


Outdoor areas present a bigger challenge when it comes to disinfecting. In a bid to minimize contamination, affected areas can be watered thoroughly or hosed down to dilute the virus and a bleach solution used on areas such as patios, pathways and driveways. Don't use bleach solutions where grass and plants grow.


Because the virus lasts so long in the environment we recommend that owners delay introducing new puppies into a household where parvovirus has been until some time after the final puppy vaccinations have been given and every precaution taken to try and decontaminate the environment. 


Vaccination offers the best protection overall and we recommend Canine Parvovirus vaccination as a core component of any dog's vaccination protocol. Vaccination against Parvovirus is essential for dogs to be accepted into boarding kennels.


Canine Distemper


What is Canine Distemper?


Canine distemper is a highly contagious disease that can affect dogs of any age with young puppies being at highest risk.


What causes this disease?


The disease is caused by the Canine Distemper Virus.


How does the disease develop?


Dogs are usually infected through airborne exposure to the virus contained in the respiratory secretions of infected dogs. The virus initially spreads from the lungs to the lymph nodes and bone marrow. It then infects and damages  the cells that line the internal and external body surfaces of the intestinal tract, lungs, conjunctiva (the membrane that lines the eyelids), the blood vessels and the skin (the epithelial cells). Because the virus suppresses the immune system, secondary bacterial infections can occur causing pneumonia and intestinal problems.


What are the signs of canine distemper?


Symptoms vary but can include fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal and eye discharges, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and depression. Muscle tremors, fits and paralysis usually occur later in the disease. The skin of the nose and footpads may become very rough and hard. Infected animals lose weight and become dehydrated through vomiting and diarrhoea.


The virus may infect the nervous system, causing life-threatening encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) soon after apparent recovery. Seizures and muscle spasms may occur early in the course of the disease or many months later.


What is the treatment?


There is no specific treatment available for dogs showing clinical signs of the disease. Therapy is aimed at supporting life function by the administration of fluids, antibiotics and medications to control infections of the intestinal and respiratory tracts however treatment is usually ineffective and the recovery rate very low. Dogs that do recover may have permanent brain damage resulting in varying neurological problems later on after apparent recovery.


How can Canine Distemper be prevented?


We recommend Canine Distemper vaccination as a core component of any dog's vaccination protocol. Vaccination against Canine Distemper is essential for dogs to be accepted into boarding kennels.


Canine Hepatitis


What is Canine Hepatitis and what causes this disease?


Canine hepatitis is a viral disease which, like distemper is extremely contagious and often fatal. Dogs of any age can become infected, however severe cases are rare in dogs over two years of age.


Symptoms include high fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and acute abdominal pain. In severe cases death can occur within 24 to 36 hours. Dogs that recover may develop long term liver and kidney problems and can act as carriers spreading the disease to other dogs for many months.


How is this disease transmitted?


The virus is shed in the urine and other body fluids of infected animals. Dogs become infected when they ingest material that is contaminated with such fluids.


How does the disease develop?


The virus spreads from the animal's gastrointestinal tract to its liver, kidneys, lymph nodes and the cells lining the blood vessels. The infection causes abnormal bleeding and clotting activity that results in internal haemorrhaging (bleeding) which may be fatal.


What are the signs of Canine Hepatitis?


  • Depression.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Fever.
  • Thirst.
  • Discharge from the eyes and nose.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Bloody diarrhoea and vomiting.


What is the treatment for Canine Hepatitis?


There is no specific treatment available for countering the infection after clinical signs develop. The goal of therapy is to support life function by administering fluids, blood transfusions, antibiotics, and appropriate medications to control clinical signs.


How can Canine Hepatitis be prevented?


Vaccinations are very effective. We recommend Canine Hepatitis vaccination as a core component of any dog's vaccination protocol. It is essential for dogs that are intending to visit boarding kennels. 


Canine Cough (Kennel Cough)


What is Kennel Cough and what causes it?


Canine cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs produced by several highly infectious diseases, which can be easily spread wherever dogs congregate, such as parks, shows, obedience schools and boarding kennels. Among the infectious agents associated with canine cough is the bacterium known as Bordetella bronchiseptica and the canine viruses parainfluenza, adenovirus type 2 and distemper.


Affected dogs have a dry hacking cough which can persist for several weeks. It is distressing for pet dogs and their owners. It is a major problem for working and sporting dogs. Most cases are mild even if irritating to owners and their dogs, but in the severe form the disease can cause pneumonia as a consequence of infection.


What are the signs of Kennel Cough?


  • A persistent, dry hacking cough is the most common and most obvious symptom.

  • Sometimes, discharges from the eyes and nose are present.


What is the treatment?


  • Antibiotics to stop bacterial infections.

  • Anti-inflammatories to decrease the inflammation of the tissue of the respiratory tract.

  • Medications to relieve the cough itself.

  • Expectorants are often used to help promote discharge of mucous from the respiratory tract.


How can Kennel Cough be prevented?


We recommend vaccinations against the Kennel Cough complex of diseases be included in any vaccination protocol for dogs that are being shown, regularly boarded or living in high risk situations, particularly in cities where dog populations might be large and there is regular contact between dogs at exercise parks and while out walking. Kennel Cough vaccinations are essential for acceptance into dog boarding kennels.


Canine Coronavirus


Canine coronavirus is another contagious virus and causes depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea especially in young dogs. Diarrhoea may last for several days in some cases. Although most dogs will recover with treatment, coronavirus has the potential to be fatal, especially if other infectious agents such as parvovirus are present.


Vaccinations against coronavirus are available and we will be happy to implement a vaccination programme in situations where the incidence or risk of the disease may be high (for example, dog breeding colonies). In most cases this disease can be managed successfully with the appropriate treatment and for the average pet owner with one puppy this disease is most often not a problem.


Canine Leptospirosis


Canine leptospirosis is a serious disease risk in some areas and can cause high death rates. It is spread by the urine of rats and is usually transmitted to dogs by contaminated food and water, or by rat bites.


There’s an increased risk where high rat populations exist such as rubbish dumps, livestock stables or green sugar cane cutting areas. Incidence can also increase after long periods of wet weather, when rat populations are forced to move or concentrate. Leptospirosis is an animal disease that can be passed to humans who may then suffer a persisting “flu like” illness.


Fortunately the Goulburn district is not a high risk area for this disease so we do not recommend routine vaccinations against leptospirosis in the Goulburn area. However, if you are regularly travelling with your dog through regions where the disease may be prevalent we can advise you on a vaccination programme that will protect your pet against this disease and arrange to obtain the appropriate vaccine to begin your pet's cover.

Call us if you need to talk about dog vaccinations and we will be happy to advise you on the best vaccination protocol for your pet dogs.