Preventing the Preventable: Importance of Vaccinating Pets Against Deadly Diseases

Preventing the preventable 

Importance of vaccinating pets against deadly diseases

Every day, vet practices across the UK treat pets that have had unpredictable accidents or unexpectedly become unwell. Sadly, they also treat pets with illnesses that could have been prevented by a simple vaccination.

Conditions such as parvovirus, leptospirosis and feline leukemia are highly infectious, frequently cause serious illness and can even kill cats and dogs. Diseases such as myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD) in rabbits can spread from wild rabbits to their domestic counterparts, often with fatal consequences.

Cases of these diseases can be prevented, but sadly millions* of family pets are at risk from killer diseases because they are missing out on vaccinations.

PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan explained: “Illnesses such as parvovirus are so easily preventable but, sadly, vets continue to see cases. It’s especially heartbreaking in cases of young puppies who have to fight this horrendous and sometimes deadly disease. Even if they are lucky and recover, some of these diseases can cause lifelong health issues. To protect our pets, all that is needed is up-to-date vaccines, which will ensure they are not at risk.

“Vaccinations work by introducing harmless versions of each disease into the body, allowing the immune system to recognise the disease and work out how to fight it.”

Young pets are at a much higher risk of catching many diseases and, if they do get ill, it can quickly become serious. Dogs are usually vaccinated from eight weeks old, cats from nine weeks and rabbits from around five weeks of age. Cats and dogs often need two injections a few weeks apart before they’re fully protected. This is called their ‘primary vaccination course’. Once this has kicked in, they can mix with other pets without the risk of picking up dangerous diseases.

Worryingly, research from the latest PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report* found decreased numbers of dogs and cats receiving a primary vaccination course when young compared with levels in 2016 and earlier, which is a great concern for the health and welfare of the nation’s pets.

Pets also need regular booster injections throughout their life. Some boosters are needed every year, others less often and in very high-risk areas, some vaccines may need to be given even more frequently. Your vet is the best person to speak to about your pet’s vaccination plan.

Many insurance companies and boarding kennels require pets’ vaccinations to be up-to-date in order to use their services.

PDSA is helping to ensure that pets are vaccinated to protect them from preventable disease. For more information about the importance of vaccinations visit

PDSA is on a mission to educate the nation on pet wellbeing and is delighted that funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery is helping the charity to continue this vital work. For more pet care tips log onto

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