This is very important reading, so please visit the WSAVA website and download their PDF report - or you can download it directly here.

This year (2010) the Vaccination Guidelines Group (VGG) of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (the official global governing body) brought out new regulations concerning the vaccination of small animals (dogs, cats etc). Their website is http://www.wsava.org/VGG1.htm and you can download the full report and recommendations as a PDF from there.

The data sheets that vets use are often 20 years out of date, so these new guidelines are hugely important. If your vet hasn't read these, please direct him/her to the website or send a copy of the PDF, because dogs are being over-vaccinated. Quote from the regulations: "Vaccines should not be given needlessly.".'

The VGG recommend that all dogs and cats receive CORE vaccines against canine distemper virus (CDV), canine adenovirus (CAV) and canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2). If there is a risk of leptovirus, or of rabies through travelling or environment, dogs should be vaccinated against this as well, though there is no legal requirement.

 

 

 THE NEW REGULATIONS IN A NUTSHELL

Puppy vaccines

Maternal antibodies gained through the milk prevent too-early vaccines from being effective, so the core vaccines should be given at ages 8-9 weeks, then every 3-4 weeks up to 14-16 weeks. The two week gap currently used is not recommended, as the body needs 4 weeks to recognize, respond to and recover from the vaccines.

Booster vaccines for adult dogs

It's wise to have a titre (blood) test done to check levels of antibodies before repeating vaccinations. Puppy vaccines should last through to at least 3 years of age and may possibly last for life. Quote from VGG: Core vaccines should not be given more frequently than every three years after the twelve month booster injection following the puppy series, because the duration of immunity (DOI) is many years and may be up to the lifetime of the pet.

An annual health check is recommended, and that you should request titre (blood) testing before 'booster' vaccinations are given.

LEPTO-2 VACCINE

If this vaccine is considered necessary (the official stance is that lepto is now rare, and statistics show that usually only young working dogs who have never been vaccinated are susceptible) it should be given once yearly. The initial dose shouldn't be given with the puppy core vaccines - it should be started at 12-16 weeks, with the second dose 3-4 weeks later. Two types of lepto virus are covered.

The lepto vaccine can be very risky, especially for toy dogs - the greatest adverse reaction is acute anaphylaxis. Although your vet may offer a titre test for lepto vaccine, it can't actually be detected in a titre test as the bacteria are too small.

 

KENNELS AND VACCINATION REGULATIONS

Currently boarding kennels insist on proof of yearly boosters. Any kennels not aware of the new WSAVA regulations should be directed to the website.

THE PITFALLS OF OVER-VACCINATION

These hypersensitise the immune system, leading to sensitivity issues such as food intolerances, seizures etc.

RESTARTING VACCINES

Up until now, if a dog has missed a yearly booster, many vets insist on restarting the vaccines with a sequence of puppy vaccines. Don't allow this. The WSAVA quote that you should insist on a titre test, that restarting vaccines are 'unjustified and contrary to the fundamental principles of immunological memory.' If the parvovirus vaccination is needed you can get this as a single vaccine.

 

SHELTERS/RESCUE CENTRES AND VACCINES

Puppies: First vaccine before 16 weeks: 1 dose prior to admission, repeat at 2 week intervals until the dog is 16 weeks old.

Adolescents and adults: First dose if over 16 weeks: One dose prior to, or on, admission. Repeat in two weeks.

KENNEL COUGH VACCINE

This is better administered as an intranasal vaccine, and doses given two weeks apart. It can be given as early as 3 weeks of age in a at-risk shelter situation.