Vaccination is an important part of your dog’s preventative healthcare plan, protecting them against potentially serious infectious diseases. Here we answer:
Why your dog needs an annual booster vaccination
When we recommend the kennel cough vaccine
What the difference between Lepto2 and Lepto4 vaccines is
Your concerns about the L4 vaccine
Why does my dog need to be vaccinated every year?
When vaccination regimes for dogs were first formulated, there was a high death rate from diseases such as Parvovirus and Canine distemper virus (CVD) we hadn’t yet figured out how long our pets had immunity after a vaccine, and the safest option at that time was considered to be once yearly boosters.
More recently expert groups using independent scientists have assessed the evidence and provided guidelines for the vaccination of dogs issued to vets around the world. You can read them for yourself by searching the World Small Animal Veterinary Association vaccination guidelines.
Vaccines are now classified as:
Core- these are vaccinations that all dogs should receive- CDV, Infectious canine hepatitis (ICH) and Parvovirus. The BSAVA (British Small Animal Veterinary Association) classifies Leptospirosis as a core vaccination also.
Non Core- are those that are required only by dogs whose environment or lifestyle put them at risk. Examples include kennel cough vaccination and Rabies.
The immunity a vaccine gives our dogs still does not last forever, and this is why we need to give them a booster. However, we don’t boost every vaccine every year.
Puppies need a vaccination course, and then a booster, for CDV, ICH, and parvovirus. Studies have shown that this immunity lasts at least 3 years, so it is safe to repeat these vaccinations every 3 years.
These studies also show that leptospirosis and kennel cough immunity does not last so long, and so boosters are needed every year to maintain protection.
Your dog’s yearly booster appointment is a great time for them to have a full health check up, and to make sure they have the best preventative healthcare plan in place.
My dog doesn’t go to kennels, should they have the kennel cough vaccine?
The viruses and bacteria that can cause kennel cough are airborne and highly infectious.
The name ‘kennel cough’ can be misleading as although it can spread rapidly in situations where there are lots of dogs such as boarding kennels, your dog can easily catch it in many other situations.
Not all dogs will show symptoms so some can spread infection without ever showing signs themselves. Young pups, and dogs with underlying disease, are at risk of developing pneumonia after infection.
Kennel cough vaccination, which is a once yearly small amount of vaccine into their noseor mouth, reduces the risk of your pup picking up kennel cough. If they do get it despite vaccination their signs are usually milder and they recover more quickly.
It is important to note that people who are immunocompromised, such as people on chemotherapy, are advised to avoid contact with the vaccine or vaccinated dogs for up to 6 weeks. Please let your vet know when you book your dog an appointment if this applies to you or someone in your household. In this case, it may be possible for your vet to source an injection kennel cough vaccine, though this is not yet widely available and has a more complex vaccination programme.
What is the difference between Lepto2 and Lepto4 vaccinations?
Leptospirosis or ‘Lepto’ is a potentially deadly bacterial infection. Leptospira bacteria can be found in soil and water and is most commonly shed into the environment in the urine of infected wildlife- particularly rats and other rodents.
It is important to remember that leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease which means it can be spread from animals to people (Weil’s disease).
The L2 vaccination covers only the two most frequently occurring forms of Leptospirosis in the UK. L4 continues this protection while also guarding against the UK’s third most common strain, plus one which is more of a problem in Europe.
Should I be worried about the Lepto4 vaccination?
All vaccines are designed to stimulate a protective immune response in order to establish immunity.
This stimulation can lead to a low risk of adverse reactions to any vaccine. There have been a lot of media concerns about potential side effects with the Lepto4 vaccination in particular.
Similar to the process for human medicines, the safety and effectiveness of L4 was established through comprehensive research studies.
For all medications, including vaccinations, a database is kept by the VMD (Veterinary Medicines Directorate) which records the number of any suspected adverse events /side effects associated with their use. Adverse events can be anything from very mild side effects to fatal reactions.
The most commonly reported adverse events to L4 vaccination are a mild, temporary increase in temperature and a small, temporary swelling at the injection site.
For both L2 and L4 the overall reporting for any suspected adverse events is rare – this means more than one but less than 10 per 10,000 doses. Specifically, the risks are as follows:
L2 – 0.015% (less than 2 in 10,000)
L4 – 0.069% (less than 7 in 10,000)
Serious adverse events are very rare – this means less than 1 per 10,000 doses.
At MyDog Doc we want to make sure all your pooches are properly protected, so if you have any further questions please do book an appointment to chat to one of our friendly vets.