All you need to know about pet vaccination, flea and worming
VACCINATION IS KEY
There are several preventable, infectious diseases which have the ability to make your beloved pet very sick or even kill. Prevention is possible with regular vaccinations. Your vet is the best person to advise you about your pet's vaccination and health requirements as it may vary, depending on their age, where you live and the health and lifestyle of your pet.
VACCINATING YOUR DOG
Diseases covered by vaccination in NZ include: Parvovirus, Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis and Canine Cough (previously Kennel Cough).
Parvovirus and Canine Cough are the diseases kiwi dogs particularly need protection against.
The first vaccination of a puppy can be administered as early as 6 weeks of age if considered at high-risk, but are normally given at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age. These early vaccinations are particularly important for the prevention of Parvovirus and Canine Cough. After this, your dog will need to be vaccinated annually.
It is very important that your puppy has good “socialisation” with other dogs before they are fully protected against these dangerous diseases. Until 10 days after your puppy has had it's 16-week vaccination, it is advisable to provide this socialisation with dogs which are healthy and fully-vaccinated, in a “safe” environment (usually this is at home).
Your dog will need to be fully protected (at least 10 days) prior to going into a boarding kennel and will require a vaccination certificate. Note: some boarding kennels require a Canine Cough vaccine to be given within 6 months prior to boarding, as protection does wane over 12 months.
VACCINATING YOUR CAT
Cats in NZ are vaccinated against the very common FLU viruses, as well as the nasty, often fatal, Feline Enteritis virus.
In addition, cats can be protected against FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus). This virus is contracted when your cat is bitten by an infected cat so any cat with access to the outdoors is at risk.
Kittens are vaccinated at 8, 10, and 12 weeks of age, followed by a booster at 6 months. For most cats, this will be at their de-sexing post-op check, if your kitten was desexed earlier, please contact your vet for their recommendation. After this booster, vaccination is required annually.
Usually, pets show very little reaction to vaccination. Occasionally they may become a little ”off-colour” or have some tenderness/swelling at the vaccination site. Dogs receiving an intranasal Canine Cough vaccine may sneeze occasionally for a few days after the vaccine. Allergic reactions are extremely rare.
Please contact your vet if you have any concerns. Remember the benefits of vaccinating your precious pet far outweigh any risks!
WORMS AND YOUR PETS
WORM YOUR KITTEN each fortnight from 2 weeks of age until 12 weeks old + followed by monthly until 6 months old + then every 3 months for life.
WORM YOUR PUPPY each fortnight from 2 weeks of age until 12 weeks old + followed by monthly until 6 months old + then every 3 months for life.
The importance of prevention in the control of intestinal worms in dogs and cats should not be underestimated. Some worms that infect pets can pose a significant risk to human health. Children, who are often closest to family pets, are most at risk.
Infections in humans can originate from:
- Ingestion of eggs by not washing hands after playing with pets
- Ingestion of eggs by small children ingesting soil contaminated with faeces
- Penetration of larvae through the skin
Worm infections in humans can cause:
- Fever and an enlarged liver
- Ocular lesions
- Skin lesions
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY PET IS INFECTED WITH WORMS?
Internal parasites are not always easy to detect in your pet, however there are some common signs you can watch out for such as:
- Pale gums
- A pot-bellied appearance, especially in puppies and kittens
- Weight loss
- White segments in faeces and/or around the anus
- Anal irritation
- Dull coat
- Coughing, especially in puppies
PROTECT AGAINST WORMS
- Always wash your hands after playing with your pet and prevent dogs from licking your face. This will help prevent transmission of worms from your dog or cat to you!
- Ensure your pets bedding and sleeping areas are always free from fleas, old food scraps and faeces. This will help prevent ingestion of potentially contaminated materials that can cause worm infestation.
- Avoid placing housing, bedding and runs on bare earth.
- Never feed offal to your pet unless it has been boiled for 30 minutes.
- Prevent scavenging of dead carcasses by your pet.
FLEAS AND YOUR PETS
Flea treatment is an all-year-round commitment because fleas can be active in all seasons. Treatment is based on the weight of your pet and is different for cats and dogs. Although you may be vigilant with your treatment plan, infestation may simply occur by an untreated passing animal, and the flea eggs /larvae falling off their coat into your pets environment, indoor or out!
The flea life cycle is complex it is comprised of four development stages.
Stage 1 - Flea Eggs: Up to 50 white small flea eggs per day may be laid by an adult female flea on your pet. These flea eggs fall off the pet’s coat into the environment with eight hours of being laid.
Stage 2 - Flea Larvae: Flea eggs hatch within 1-6 days into larvae. Flea larvae are mobile, they will move away from light, towards moisture and the ground.
Stage 3 - Flea Pupae: With five to 11 days, flea larvae spin a sticky silk cocoon to become pupae which can remain dormant for up to six months, depending on the environment and conditions. (It is important to note that no insecticidal treatment kills pupae so it is important to remain vigilant with your prevention plan.)
Stage 4 - Adult Fleas: Young fleas are stimulated to emerge from the cocoon by your pet’s body temperature, movement, shadows and exhaled carbon dioxide. Within a second, your passing pet may acquire newly emerged fleas from its home environment and with adult fleas mating on your pet within 8-24 hours, the production of flea eggs and the cycle begins again at stage one with 24-48 hours.
Development from flea egg to an adult flea can vary from as little as 12 days to as long as 325 days.
THE PROBLEMS FLEAS CAUSE
Fleas are blood-sucking parasites that can make life miserable for pets and their owners.
They can cause:
- Intense itching and scratching which can result in hair loss
- Flea Allergy Dermatitis – a very common and unpleasant skin condition caused by an allergy to flea saliva
- Tapeworm infestation
- Anaemia in puppies and kittens.
HOW DID MY PET PICK UP FLEAS?
Fleas rarely jump from one pet to another, instead cats and dogs pick them up from infested environments. This could be your garden, the local park, a friend’s house – any place where an animal that has fleas, such as a hedgehog, possum or another cat or dog, may be found.
Infested animals leave flea eggs behind wherever they go. New fleas hatch from these infested environments once they sense the warmth, the carbon dioxide and vibrations an animal such as your pet creates and jump onto them.
HOW TO PREVENT FLEAS
Use treatment regularly as directed by the instructions on the product you have purchased, to kill adult fleas on your pet.
Make sure all cats and dogs are treated. Each pet in your household can act as a host for a flea infestation.
Regularly vacuum your carpets and furnishings and wash your pets bedding above 60°C. This will help to reduce the number of any eggs, larvae and pupae in the environment.
Use an environmental spray or fogger containing an Insect Growth Regulator. This will kill eggs and larvae that are developing in the home environment. Existing pupae will continue to hatch for several weeks until the population is depleted.
Important: Allow treated pets continued access to infested areas as fleas that hatch from pupae in the home can then jump onto your pet and be killed through contact with your treatment. No insecticidal treatment kills pupae so this is an important step.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO HELP REDUCE THE RISK OF FLEA RE-EMERGENCE AND RE-INFESTATION
- Discard all flea infested items, eg bedding where practical.
- Clean between floor boards and in cracks between tiles and pavers.
- Vacuum regularly; steam clean where possible. This will assist with removal of eggs and stimulate fleas to emerge.
- Wash pet bedding and blankets regularly in hot water.
- Place items that come into contact with pets but cannot be washed in direct sunlight every few days (ie cushions, door mats, rugs etc) this will help kill the immature flea stages.
- If possible prevent other pets from visiting your home that have not been treated.
- Conduct a “white sock test”. Put on a pair of long white socks and walk around your pet’s environment. This will stimulate any fleas to emerge and jump onto the socks, this will help you determine if you have a flea problem, and where they are coming from. This way if you find the source you can concentrate your cleaning efforts here.
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