44 Rankeilor Street
Dunedin South, New Zealand, 9012
Phone: 03 456 2345
Banner image

 What am I vaccinating against?

The core vaccination protects your puppy against devastating and potentially fatal canine parvovirus, adenovirus (hepatitis) and distemper virus. We also recommend vaccinating against kennel cough. For kittens core vaccination protects against feline herpesvirus, calicivirus and panleucopaenia. We can also vaccinate against feline immunodeficiency virus if your cat is deemed at risk.

How do vaccinations work? 

Shortly after birth, a puppy or kitten nurses off their mother and receives colostrum. This contains antibodies which are likened to tiny soldiers which fight a particular disease. This conveys natural maternal immunity, however it wanes over time. In some animals, it drops below protective levels by 6 weeks of age whilst in others it may last up to 16+ weeks of age. 

A vaccine contains a small dose of a dead or weakened version of the virus against which we are vaccinating. The immune system reacts to this, creating antibodies. In the future, if your pet is exposed to the virus, the immune system remembers it and quickly produces antibodies to fight that particular infection. 

The vaccine will only work once the natural maternal immunity is below a certain level. It is impossible to tell when this will happen in your pup.  

When do we give the first vaccine?

We normally start the vaccine course at 6-8 weeks of age as some animals have already lost their natural maternal immunity by this age. 

When do we give the last vaccine? 

Following considerable research the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) recommends finishing the vaccinations at 16 weeks of age. or over. This is because a small percentage of puppies and kittens still have natural maternal immunity protecting them at 12 weeks of age, which interferes with our vaccines. 

Why do we need to give so many boosters? Why can’t we just give the vaccine at 16 weeks of age?

We walk a fine line when vaccinating puppies and kittens. We want to vaccinate enough to protect them, without over-vaccinating.        If your puppy or kitten  has natural immunity only until 6 weeks of age, waiting until 16 weeks leaves a 10 week window of dangerous susceptibility. It is recommended to booster your pup or kitten every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age.  

When do we need to give the adult booster? 

Historically this was done one year after the final puppy vaccination. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association is now recommending doing this before 12 months of age to ensure all adults are properly protected. We are following their guidelines and now recommend boostering your pet at 9 months of age. This is an ideal time to recheck how your pet is growing. The next vaccination is then due 12 months after that when your pup is 21 months of age.



Contents of this newsletter

01  Congratulations

02  Cruciate ligament disease

03  Does your dog have arthritis?

04  Cats are the best at hiding arthritis

05  Top tips for managing arthritis

01 Congratulations

The Humanimals team would like to congratulate Krystle Kelly, one of our great veterinary nurses, and her partner Nick on the safe and speedy arrival of baby Lily Grace. Mum and baby are doing great.

02 Cruciate ligament disease
iStock cruciate

One of the most common injuries we see in dogs is a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament. This is the same injury seen in many a footballer - the notorious ACL, and it can can lead to dramatic arthritis in your dog's knee if it is not treated effectively.

Many dogs will 'snap' the ligament after suddenly jumping off a height or turning quickly. These dogs present to us non weight bearing on the injured hind leg. As cruciate disease can also be a progressive and degenerative condition, other dogs will present with a mild, intermittent lameness and chronic thickening of the joint. 

Examination of a dog under sedation or general anaesthetic will help diagnose the condition and we are able to detect movement in the knee that should not be there if the ligament was healthy. Radiographs will also assist in identifying arthritic changes and evidence of swelling within and around the knee joint. 

Surgery to stabilise the knee joint is the best option for treatment. Some small dogs may respond to conservative treatment, such as rest and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication but due to instability in the joint, the risk of developing painful arthritis is high.

There are a few different surgical techniques for cruciate ligament repair and new procedures are continually being developed. If your dog ruptures his cruciate ligament, we will be able to give you more information on the most suitable type of surgery. 

It is important to realise that arthritis may still develop in the affected joint following surgery, but will be significantly reduced than if surgery was not performed.

If you are worried about your pet please call us for advice. 

03 Does your dog have arthritis?

Arthritis is a sneaky condition. It tends to creep up over time and our pets won't always show obvious signs until they are in considerable pain. 

The disease is caused by the wearing down of the cartilage that covers the bones at the end of a joint. This 'cushioning' cartilage helps joints move freely and without discomfort but as it wears down, the ends of the bones become exposed and can rub together. You can imagine the pain this might cause your pet! 

It is very important to understand that your pet won’t necessarily limp or yelp or whimper if he is in pain.

Most of the signs of arthritic pain are subtle and here's what you should watch out for if you own a dog (we'll cover cats in more detail below): 

  • Hesitant to jump into the car or up on furniture
  • Slowing down on walks or a reluctance to walk as far 
  • A bit slow to get going after getting up 
  • Lowers his body slowly when going to lie down 
  • Behavioural changes e.g. grumpy when touched on the back
  • Slipping on floorboards or hesitant to use stairs

Don’t be tempted to put these changes down to 'he's just getting old' as your pet may be in significant pain - he just can't tell you!

Thankfully there is now a number of things we can do to slow the progression of the disease and keep your pet pain free.

Phone us to arrange an arthritis check up and we'll be able to work out a suitable treatment plan for your pet. 

04 Cats are the best at hiding arthritis

Cats are even better than dogs at hiding or covering up pain caused by arthritis. If you think about it, cats spend much of their time sleeping and we generally don't take cats for a walk, so it is hard to see a change in their mobility.

Try to keep an eye out for these subtle signs:

  • Landing 'in a heap' when jumping off furniture 
  • Hesitant when jumping up or down from the furniture
  • Reluctant to climb the fence or trees
  • No longer using the litter box properly (especially if it has high sides)
  • Resistant to being picked up or moved
  • Matted or scruffy coat (as grooming is painful)
  • Long nails - simply because of reduced activity

If you notice any of these signs you should arrange a check up with us.

Good pain management can make a huge difference to your cat's quality of life and this is one of the most important things we can do for our pets. 

05 Top tips for managing arthritis

If we’ve diagnosed your pet with arthritis we will work with you to come up with the best management plan to keep your pet pain free.

The key to success is a multi-targeted approach as this can help reduce the need for large amounts of medication and lessen the potential side effects of any one treatment.

Things YOU can do: 

  • Keep your pet’s weight in a healthy range  - ask us for a diet recommendation
  • Exercise your pet in moderation to keep the joints moving and muscles toned
  • Think about getting a portable ramp to help your dog in and out of the car
  • Provide an additional piece of furniture so your dog or cat doesn't have to jump so high to reach his favourite spot

Medical treatments might include:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): these help to reduce pain and inflammation quickly and may be used in the short or even long term.

Disease-modifying drugs: given as a regular injection, these help to relieve pain and help to preserve joint cartilage - ask us for more information.

Nutriceuticals: supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin may be helpful in improving your pet’s joint function and may help slow down the progression of arthritis.

Diet modification: a diet high in essential fatty acids (with added nutriceuticals) can help reduce inflammation and improve your pet’s mobility. Ask us about the specific arthritis prescription diets we have available.

Don't forget, it’s absolutely essential you return with your pet for regular check ups so we can monitor their pain and mobility and adjust the program if necessary.