After the TV, it’s time for a quick dose of reality

Cute - but in need of care: Your puppies need protection. Picture: Ted Fu

Cute – but in need of care: Your puppies need protection. Picture: Ted Fu

EVERY time I turn on the television these days there is yet another programme about vets.

However, despite what the programmes show, a lot of my working day is not spent performing heroic life-saving surgery but rather doing routine work like putting my arm up the back end of a cow or vaccinating pets. What surprises me is how many owners bring their pets in for routine vaccinations without understanding why they are coming in except that their vet has sent them a reminder.

Recently we have changed dog vaccines and this has led to a lot of conversations about what diseases the vaccinations protect dogs from.

The main change is that there are newer strains against a disease called Leptospirosis which is carried by rats and shed in their urine. It causes a severe fever and can result in kidney failure if left untreated. The other big disease in dogs that is prevented by vaccination is parvo virus.

This is a horrible condition that can affect dogs of all ages but especially younger ones. It causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea and can end up with the dog dying of dehydration. We regularly have puppies in from this area with the disease and end up putting them on a drip for a few days to try and save their lives. Apart from these diseases, the vaccines cover hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and distemper- which used to be called “hard pad” and was more common before vaccinations became routine.

As if sticking a needle in the dog wasn’t enough we can upset them even more by giving them a vaccination against kennel cough up their noses. This is a terrible name as we see more cases in dogs that don’t go into kennels. It is more like flu, with dogs coughing over each other wherever they congregate and then starting with a dry, hacking cough and a fever that can make them very sick, very quickly.

Cats needn’t think they will miss out either. Due to their tendency to argue with each other they need protecting against cat flu and enteritis (or inflammation of the stomach) and leukaemia which stops their immune system working properly.

So I guess that when we give these “routine” vaccinations we are saving lives.

Oh and don’t forget it is now illegal to have a dog that is not micro-chipped.

– Andrew Robinson, Millcroft Vets