New Dog Vaccine
In 2016, we reviewed our dog vaccine protocols in the light of new vaccine availability and emerging disease threats. Following this review, we are now using Versican® Plus as our main dog vaccine. We believe this vaccine offers your dog the most up-to-date protection available.
For more information about the vaccine review, please read our 24/2/17 blog: http://www.newnhamvets.co.uk/do-we-over-vaccinate-our-dogs/
What benefits does Versican® Plus offer?
Firstly, Versican® Plus gives strong immunity against viral diseases, enabling us to reduce the number of vaccine components given every year. Once the primary vaccination course is completed, the dog will have three years protection against the “core” components – distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus – and one-year duration of immunity against leptospirosis, a locally important “non-core” bacterial disease.
Secondly, it gives better protection against newly emerging strains of canine parvovirus and leptospirosis.
The cause of canine parvovirus disease is a highly contagious DNA-containing virus. There are currently two types prevalent in the UK, namely CPV-2a and CPV-2b. Versican® Plus gives excellent protection against both strains.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease carried by rats, cattle and wildlife. It can cause fatal disease in dogs and humans, and infected dogs can infect humans. Older vaccines provided protection against two strains that were the most common cause of the disease in the past, however with climate change new strains have emerged. Versican® Plus protects against both old and new strains. Although the new strains of leptospirosis have not yet been recorded in local dogs, there have been outbreaks and fatalities in vaccinated dogs in the West Country1. The number of human leptospirosis cases in the UK has also been rising2, 3. In a semi-rural area like ours, dogs walked along the riverside or in woodlands are likely to be exposed to the bacteria4. The Medway area is a known leptospirosis hotspot and it is only a matter of time before the new strains appear here. If you are interested, more information about leptospirosis is available on the BSAVA website5.
How often will dogs need to be vaccinated?
Dogs will still need an annual physical examination and vaccination, but the vaccine given will vary from year to year. Because the Leptospira component is new, all dogs will need a second injection 3-4 weeks after the first time it is given. Even using the most modern vaccines, vaccination against leptospirosis does not give a very strong immunity. To ensure maximum protection, it is very important that this second injection is given on time, and that annual boosters are not allowed to “lapse”. After the initial course, only one annual injection is needed.
What about cost?
There is no additional cost to you for the annual booster and the second leptospirosis injection given 3-4 weeks later.
Does Versican® Plus have side effects?
To achieve maximum protection, it is an “adjuvanted” vaccine (as are most human vaccines). A small lump may develop after vaccination, and the dog may be off colour for a few days (anybody who has been vaccinated against yellow fever or typhoid knows this feeling!).
All vaccines can cause side effects, including potentially fatal allergic reactions, and Versican® Plus is no exception. To put things in perspective, the risk of side effects to this vaccine is rare (less than seven events per 10,000 doses). It is important to note that the leptospirosis component of Versican® Plus is not the same as the “L4” vaccine reported on in the popular press a year or so ago.
The risk of side effects is also lowered by reducing the number of components given together. Using Versican® Plus enables us to customise each patient’s vaccination plan to provide the protection needed.
Because each dog is different, we will assess and discuss each individual’s needs for vaccination at the time of her/his annual examination. If you have any queries or concerns, please raise these with the veterinary surgeon at the time.
- Increase in canine leptospirosis cases. Helen Wilson, Catherine Bovens and Kate Murphy, Veterinary Record 2015 176: 235