Why you should vaccinate your pets

Vaccinations protect your pet from several highly contagious diseases such as canine distemper, parvovirus infection and respiratory tract infections.

It also protects against transmissible diseases such as rabies that also pose a risk to humans. Vaccination will not cure a pet that is already sick. Only healthy pets should be vaccinated.

Risks involved

The majority of pets experience no adverse effects following vaccination. A small number of animals may become feverish and have a reduced appetite.

These reactions are mild and of short duration. In extremely rare cases, an animal may experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction.

Such an animal can be treated successfully if attended to immediately. The possibility of such an event occurring does not justify considering not to vaccinate your pets, however, as that will leave them susceptible to a range of life-threatening infectious diseases.

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Different vaccines

Vaccines used for the protection of pets are currently divided into core vaccines and non-core vaccines.

The former are vaccines that should be given to all pets in all regions because they protect against diseases that are widespread and have serious effects.

Non-core vaccines are only given strategically when a particular disease is prevalent in an area or when circumstances predispose to the appearance of the disease.

Non-core vaccines are only administered after discussion with your veterinarian to evaluate the risks.

Basic vaccination programme for dogs:

  • First vaccination at eight to nine weeks.
  • Second vaccination at 11 to 12 weeks; includes the first rabies vaccination.
  • Re-vaccinate at 14 to 16 weeks; includes the second rabies vaccination.
  • Re-vaccinate at one year.
  • Re-vaccinate every three years, including rabies.

Basic vaccination programme for cats:

  • First vaccination at eight weeks of age.
  • Re-vaccinate at 12 weeks of age; includes rabies vaccination.
  • Re-vaccinate at 16 weeks in environments with high infection pressure or in breeding catteries. If not applicable, only give the second rabies vaccination.
  • Re-vaccinate at one year.
  • Repeat every three years, including rabies.

* Information obtained from the South African Veterinary Council.