Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic in Port Elizabeth

There are infectious and potentially fatal diseases which can affect your dog or cat. Ensuring that your dog or cat completes an initial course of vaccinations and then receives regular boosters is very important. At about 6 weeks of age, the immunity from a puppy or kitten's mother begins to wear off so puppies and kittens are given their first vaccination at 6 weeks. The second vaccination is at 10 weeks and the third vaccination which includes the rabies vaccination is at 14 weeks of age. This course must be completed before your puppy or kitten is fully protected. The protection given by vaccination is not necessarily life-long so repeated vaccination is necessary to maintain immunity. Our vets will examine your dog or cat before every vaccination and will delay vaccination if your dog or cat is unwell. Occasionally there may be a small swelling at the vaccination site and rarely your dog or cat may be off colour for a few days. Kennels and catteries will insist on seeing proof of vaccinations.

Vaccination helps prevent the following diseases:

CANINE DISTEMPER is caused by a virus and dogs can become very ill and many will die. Signs include coughing, nasal discharge, vomiting, diarrhoea and fits. Dogs which recover may have ongoing illnesses for the rest of their lives.

CANINE INFECTIOUS HEPATITIS is caused by a virus which affects the liver and can cause liver failure and death for many. Less severely affected dogs may have a cough, high temperature and develop cloudy eyes.

CANINE PARVOVIRUS is caused by a virus which causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea, usually in young puppies. Many will die. The virus can survive for long periods (about 6 months) in the environment and can be transmitted on your shoes.

LEPTOSPIROSIS is caused by a bacteria. Rats pass the bacteria in their urine and it survives well in moist conditions so dogs which spend a lot of time in water are at risk. The disease can cause jaundice and liver failure.

KENNEL COUGH is caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria which cause irritation to the windpipe resulting in coughing. It will spread rapidly through kennelled dogs, hence the name. The cough is dry and hacking and may sound as if something is stuck in your dog's throat. A young, healthy dog should not be unwell and the cough will go within 2-3 weeks. Keep your dog warm, take the collar off, limit exercise and do not take him to places where he will meet other dogs. If the infection spreads to the chest or if your dog feels unwell, our vets may prescribe some antibiotics.

RABIES is a fatal viral infection, passed from animal to animal via the saliva. After an animal has been infected, the signs will develop in a few weeks. The disease begins with a fever and as the virus spreads to the
brain, animals will show a change in behaviour. In most animals aggressive behaviour will be seen together with a fear of water. Paralysis develops within a few days and then death. Vaccination against rabies is compulsory in South Africa. back to top

CAT FLU (SNUFFLES) is caused by feline calicivirus and herpesvirus and is rarely fatal, except in very young or old cats. Infected cats spread the virus in their saliva and nasal discharges. Cat flu starts with a high fever, so your cat may feel miserable and stop eating. This is followed by sneezing, a runny nose and sore eyes. Some cats get mouth ulcers, making eating difficult. Most cats recover after a few weeks, but some may carry the virus for a long time and continue to suffer persistent problems such as a runny nose. If your cat has cat flu separate her from your other cats, keep her warm, offer her plenty of water and tempt her to eat with tasty warm food. Our vets may prescribe antibiotics and something to ease congestion.

FELINE PANLEUCOPAENIA causes severe vomiting, diarrhoea and sometimes fatal dehydration in kittens and young cats. The virus is spread through infected faeces and can survive for long periods in the environment.

FELINE LEUKAEMIA is a virus which may be spread when cats groom each other, share the same food bowls or litter tray, sneeze on or bite each other. It can also be spread directly from the mother to the kitten via the placenta or milk. The disease destroys the cat's defences against other diseases and may cause cancers. It is
almost always fatal. Feline leukaemia must be suspected if your cat repeatedly gets ill. There is no cure for this virus. Kittens under six months are most susceptible and 80% of most infected cats die within three years. If your cat has already been infected it is too late to vaccinate. The infected cat must be kept away from others cats and should not be allowed outside.

FELINE IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS (FIV) attacks your cat's immune system and so your cat is unable to fight off infections and cancers. FIV will only affect cats and is transmitted via the saliva. FIV transmission from mother to kitten is very rare. Male cats are more likely to become infected as they are more likely to fight and have bite wounds. There may be no signs of illness for many years while the immune system is being slowly destroyed. Finally (usually in 5-12 year olds), your cat becomes very prone to infections - respiratory tract infections, intestinal infections, oral infections (in about 50% of FIV infected cats), and skin infections. The signs of FIV infection are very similar to Feline Leukaemia infection. The signs may be lethargy, fever, loss of appetite and weight loss. FIV positive cats must be kept indoors to protect other cats and to protect them from exposure to diseases. At Southern Cross, we only vaccinate at risk cats.


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cat in carrier
dog coughing
cat with snuffles