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Vaccine time! What’s the big fuss about it??

Animals are born into this world without a fully developed immune system. Just like babies, puppies and kittens attain their initial ability to fight infection from the “first milk” or colostrum of their mothers. Without colostrum, young ones are left exposed to contracting disease and infection with no immune defence.

Immunity from colostrum will only last the first few weeks of life. As young animals begin to walk, and interactions with the environment increases, they become more exposed to diseases. Young puppies and kittens are easy targets for intestinal and respiratory diseases. At 2/3 weeks of age pups/kittens should get their first deworming. Why so early? Some parasites are transmitted through the breast in the milk, also known as trans-mammary transmission. De-worming will get rid of these intestinal parasites, help maintain gut integrity and promote better growth of your animal. At this age deworming should be performed by your veterinarian as at such a young age some dewormers are unsafe to use.

As early as 4weeks of age your puppy is susceptible to a range of viruses namely parvo virus, distemper virus, hepatitis and leptospirosis (zoonotic; people can be infected also) to name a few. Protection from these are included in the core vaccines offered at veterinary clinics.

Parvo virus mainly affects puppies under 6months that aren’t fully vaccinated. Parvo virus is spread predominantly by flies or by direct contact with faeces. Sick puppies/unvaccinated dogs will shed the virus in their faeces, flies then transfer the disease to food, water, toys and basically anything it lands on that your puppy can put into its mouth. You may also unknowingly track faeces into your yard under your shoes. Your healthy puppy will then ingest and thus get infected. It takes approximately 3-7 days for clinical signs to develop which include diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and inappetance. Once detected and treated early by a veterinarian survival is around 80% but if left untreated or caught too late there is a 91% death rate and it is highly contagious within the litter.

Every week we treat puppies for parvo/gastrointestinal disorders. To help reduce the incidence of disease and transmission all puppies should be kept on a surface easily to clean i.e. tiled surface or concrete housing. Adhering to the designated vaccination schedule from your veterinarian will allow your puppies immunity to mature and allow adequate protection during its adult life. Limiting puppy interactions with other dogs whether vaccinated/unvaccinated, or limiting their exposure to environments other dogs visit, greatly reduces the potential for your puppy to acquire disease. Feeding your puppy 3- 4 times daily with puppy chow will ensure your puppy is growing properly and will maintain strong gut integrity.

The health and well-being of your pets are in your hands! Give them the best quality of life possible and get your pets vaccinated! Still have questions? Give us a visit or call TTSPCA Tobago today at 639-2567 or 309-0219.

Author: Kalidia Millette, Shelter Veterinarian at TTSPCA Tobago, DVM, BSc
Last Updated: 2018-12-07T19:41:20.598Z