Missed jabs

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Vicky Payne advises a reader over his concern regarding missed vaccinations for his dogs.

Q: Because of lockdown our two Shetland Sheepdogs, Alfie and Suzy, did not get their booster jabs on time. When I phoned the vet’s, I was informed that they would need to receive several jabs as they missed the date of their booster. Is this correct and do our dogs really need a booster every year? They are our pride and joy and we want the very best for them. 

Keith Whitton, via email.


A: Vicky says: Your dog’s annual vaccination has several parts. The vaccines for distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus are usually licensed for use every three years after the initial puppy course and first annual booster. Some dogs have longer-lasting protection from these vaccinations, which can be checked by a lab (titre testing). A positive titre test means your dog still has circulating antibodies to those diseases; a negative titre means they may not be protected. Leptospirosis vaccination is different. Because it is a dead vaccine, it does not produce such a long-lasting immune response. Circulating antibodies may only be present for a few months and cellular immunity (which can’t be measured) then protects the dog for around 12 months. Most dogs have some protection for up to 18 months and will respond well to a single vaccination within 18 months. If it has been more than 18 months since the last vaccination, a course of two injections will be required. 

Kennel cough vaccine protects for around 12 months, but only one vaccination is required to get protection at any point in a dog’s life. If you have concerns about vaccination, talk to your vet who can discuss the options with you.