Vaccinations: does my dog need them?

It can be a tricky decision for dog owners to determine whether or not their pet pooch is in need of vaccinations. After all, they are not taking them anywhere too exotic where they might be exposed to dangerous diseases, right? Well, not exactly. Just like babies get vaccinated against a range of human illnesses, so too should dogs.

The latest research from PDSA, the animal charity, suggests as many as 11 million pets could pass away in the next ten years as a result of preventable diseases. Indeed, one of the biggest threats to canines' health is parovirus, which is most common in pups aged six to 20 weeks. It starts off with depression, vomiting and diarrhea, but without intense veterinary intervention, could result in fatality.

Dogs tend to pick up this disease through oral contact with contaminated faeces. They carry it on their hair, feet and bodies. Most cases of parovirus can be prevented by getting your pet vaccinated from eight weeks of age. They will need to continue a course of treatment until they are about 16 weeks, making it important to limit their contact with other dogs during this time to help fend off the threat of the virus. However, you could give them a much-deserved dog treat to make up for not allowing them to socialise as much as they want during treatment.

In maintaining your pooch's health, you should also think about the importance of neutering. Vaccinations help to build up their immunities to a range of diseases, while neutering can also reduce their risk of contracting certain types of cancers and womb infections. PDSA senior vet Sean Wensley explained that although you might truly love your pet, it is still vital to monitor their health to ensure their longevity.

"As a vet, I can strongly recommend vaccination, as there are many infectious diseases still present and causing significant suffering," he said. "As for the cost, this is often less than people think and is much less than the cost of hospitalisation and treatment if a pet becomes infected." As well as the cost of treatment, pet owners will not want to put their pooch through the pain of an illness, making prevention far better than cure.

Although Britain is undoubtedly a nation of dog lovers, it seems many still need reminding of the significance of vaccinations and neutering. Research from PDSA discovered 56 per cent of pet owners in the north east have failed to ensure their pets have been vaccinated, given a booster or been neutered. In fact, more than half of animal owners in the UK are not ensuring their furry friends are as protected as they should be. But considering the fact vaccination and neutering can have a significant positive impact on a dog's life expectancy, pet owners would be well-advised to get their dogs protected.

Mr Wensley said: "For many pets, simple preventative health care is not being delivered. This can have devastating consequences for pets that can often go on to develop serious and potentially fatal diseases." The good news is you can take action now to get your dog vaccinated and neutered, helping to ensure they live a long and healthy life.

Written by: Hannah