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There are many infectious diseases in the UK which can be fatal to our pets. Vaccinations are a safe and necessary way of protecting our dogs, cats and rabbits. Even indoor cats and rabbits are susceptible to these diseases and should be vaccinated. 

At Vets on the Common, we advise yearly vaccinations which will give our pets the best protection possible. It also gives our vets a chance to perform a head-to-toe clinical exam, where we can often pick up on issues which may have gone unnoticed until now, and asnwer any questions you may have. Depending on your pet's environment and lifestyle, they may not require all the below vaccinations every year (some are given every 3 years), and you can discuss vaccination options with one of our vets during the appointment. 

What diseases can I protect my pet from with vaccinations?


  • Parvovirus: this is a highly infectious, and often deadly, virus which is transmitted through infected faeces. It can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea, and young puppies are very susceptible. Infected dogs require intense hospitalisation in isolation due to the virus being so infectious, and many young dogs do not survive. 

  • Canine Distemper: this virus is usually spread through saliva and urine. The initial stages of infection cause coughing, eye and nose discharge, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea. As the disease progresses, it can affect a dog's central nervous system, causing life-threatening seizures. Dogs which are lucky enough to survive distemper, through hospitalisation and supportive care, can often have life-long health problems, such as fits, and may require ongoing medication and veterinary care.

  • Leptospirosis: this is a serious bacterial infection, which is spread through dog urine in water and soil. The disease can quickly progress and cause life-threatening organ failure. Dogs will appear lethargic, show excessive thirst and urinating, vomiting and have a fever. This infection can be treated with antibiotics but can leave life-long health complications. There are 4 strains of leptospirosis in the UK, so we advise giving the L4 vaccination. However, the L2 vaccination, which only protects against the two main strains, is also available. Leptospirosis can also infect humans. 

  • Adenovirus 1 and 2: this is a viral infection which has two strains. The first causes Canine Infectious Hepatitis, where the liver is targeted. The second causes a respiratory infection which is a type of kennel cough. The virus is easily transmitted in saliva, urine, faeces, blood and nasal discharge and the infection can last for several months.

  • Kennel Cough: this is a term for a group of viruses and bacteria that can cause an upper respiratory infection in dogs which is highly infectious, but not life-threatening. Many unvaccinated dogs will show marked symptoms such as coughing or retching, or thick eye and nose discharge, and need medication to alleviate the symptoms. Many dog kennels and daycares will require dogs to have the Kennel Cough vaccination. 


  • Feline Infectious Enteritis: also known as Feline Panleukopaenia, this disease is caused by Feline Parvovirus, and can be fatal. Young unvaccinated kittens are especially susceptible and show symptoms such as lethargy, inappetence, vomiting and watery diarrhoea.

  • Feline Influenza or Cat Flu: this is caused by a group of viruses and bacteria, but mostly Feline Herpesvirus 1 and Feline Calicivirus, both of which can be vaccinated against. These viruses cause a range of upper respiratory symptoms, such as eye and nose discharge, painful mouth ulcers, sneezing, eye ulcers, difficulty breathing and fever.

  • Feline Leukaemia Virus: only cats that go outside and come into contact with other cats are susceptible to this virus, so many cats do not require this vaccination. This horrible virus can deplete a cat's immune system (immunodeficiency) and make them susceptible to a range of infections and cancers.


  • Myxomatosis: a nasty viral infection which affects a rabbit's eyes, skin, lungs, liver, genitals and other key organs. It can be transmitted via wild rabbits, mosquitoes and fleas, as well as on objects like shoes and clothes. Most infected rabbits do not survive.

  • Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease 1 & 2: two types of virus which cause the same disease, affecting a rabbit's organs and causes uncontrolled bleeding. Most infected rabbits sadly do not survive. RHD 1 & 2 are spread between rabbits and from mosquitoes and fleas. 

Does my pet need a rabies vaccination?

Rabies is a deadly viral infection which has been eradicated in the UK (apart from some bat species). For this reason, we do not vaccinate routinely against rabies.

The rabies vaccination is a requirement for pet travel, however, and is needed for dogs, cats and ferrets that will be leaving or entering the UK. There are a handful of countries that do not require the vaccination if travelling from the UK.

The rabies vaccination is given under the skin, and is licensed to last for 3 years before a booster is required. You will usually have to wait at least 21-30 days before being allowed to travel abroad with your pet. 

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