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This is a summary of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association's worldwide set of vaccination guidelines for dogs and cats, along with my local recommendations for good old Banks Peninsula.


Although putting together these guidelines may sound a fairly simple exercise, in reality it entailed a lot of work, since conditions and diseases vary hugely in different parts of the planet. This was perhaps best summarised by 2 slides at WSAVA's presentation, one showing a Hollywood celebrity carrying a Chihuahua in her handbag, the other showing several mangy curs sheltering in a doorway in a slum in Calcutta. As you can imagine the range and type of diseases that these dogs may be exposed to couldn’t be further apart! Their take home message was vaccinate more animals less often. Once around 70% of the population is immunised against a particular disease, that disease is rarely seen in that population. This is known as herd immunity, and applies to people too, for example allowing measles to resurface if more than 30% of children at a school aren’t immune. As far as our pets are concerned the more Peninsula animals are vaccinated, the less viral disease we’ll see. This specifically applies to parvo, kennel cough, hepatitis and distemper in dogs, and snuffles and panleukopaenia in cats. These are what are called core diseases and are covered by the core vaccines.


The “less often” part has been introduced over the past 15 years or more, with many vaccine manufacturers introducing a 3 year label claim, rather than 1 year as was traditional. This has caused endless confusion for owners, catteries, kennels and yes, also vets! Probably today no two vet practices will have exactly the same vaccination programme. In many ways this is what the WSAVA intended, so we can tailor individual programmes to local conditions, which may also differ between neighbouring farms or houses.


Briefly my vaccination recommendations are: At least 2 puppy or kitten (sometimes 3 if started at 6 weeks in puppies) core vaccinations, followed by a booster as a young adult around 15 months old, then 3 yearly boosters for low risk animals. If the animal is deemed high risk (going into kennel or cattery, taking part in shows or competitions, breeding animals or dogs working off farm often ) it will need annual vaccinations. In dogs this can be just against kennel cough without repeating parvo and distemper. Also animals receiving non core vaccines will still need annual boosters. This mainly applies to cats vaccinated against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and dogs against leptospirosis.


I realise this all sounds complicated, but by speaking to you about your pet’s lifestyle I can easily make a science based recommendation. Finally a reminder about the new strain of calici virus targeting rabbits introduced last year. This can be prevented by vaccination, so if you have pet rabbits they should be vaccinated annually. If your dog or cat was last vaccinated more than 3 years ago please remember for their sake and the sake of all our animals to bring these up to date.


P.S. Since first writing this article 7 years ago I've made two changes to my vaccination recommendations- I used to give rabbits just one calici vaccine and we can no longer source the feline leukaemia vaccine in NZ. All Christchurch kennels have differing requirements around their kennel cough and even core vaccine requirements so I'd recommend checking with them more than 2 weeks before boarding. Most catteries (and this applies to ours too) are happy as long as the feline core vaccine was done less than a year before boarding.


SA MAST Khayelitsha 7



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We have an inhouse blood analyzer at the clinic, so we can run many tests while you wait. This allows us to offer pre-anaesthetic testing as well as health screening for older animals, and provide an emergency service afterhours and weekends when the Christchurch laboratory is closed. We can also determine mineral levels in down cows. We also now have a portable ultrasound scanner, good news for pregnancy testing.

We once again have the cheap mismating injection available for bitches. This has been off the market for a few years now, but Paul has been able to have some compounded. We have some ideas to help you save on animal health expenses- ask us about very competitively priced BlackHawk farm dog food specially designed at Massey for NZ working dogs, and get to feed a premium, performance enhancing brand. Also the RFID electronic ear tags are now compulsory for cattle and deer. Ask us about ordering NAIT tags for your stock, or about the new tagging requirements. There is a lot more flexibility in what visible tags are acceptable- they don't all have to be yellow! We are able to procure eartags at below recommended retail prices.

We also have a large range of Acana/Orijen, Hills Science Diet and BlackHawk dog and cat food in stock. Paul can deliver to Akaroa on Mondays and Thursdays and to Diamond Harbour on Tuesdays.

Animal health information - Archives

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A different perspective, Animal welfare, Accidental poisonings, Arthritis, Allergies, Above & beyond, After Hours, Akaroa or bust

Becoming a vet, Birthing & midwifery, Be wormwise this Autumn

Calici vaccination update- rabbits

Dental care, De sexing, Dogs, sheep measles & farm etiquette

External parasites, Euthanasia, EID's, Equine deworming recommendations & autumn animal health advice

First aid in animals. FIV and Feline Leukaemia, Five Freedoms

Grain Poisoning

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Mafikeng rhino, Memories of Mafikeng, Mr Talkative, Mycoplasma bovis , Microchipping,

Nutrition, Nutrition in pet rabbits, New Year Animal Health Checklist

Obesity in pets, Onwards & upwards

Poisons in the pantry, primary health care, Plant poisonings, Pigs rule, Pig's Ear, Pathology & blood testing, Pet statistics in NZ

Rabbit calicivirus, Ramped up rhino, Resistance-squandering a miracle, Road block

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