VACCINATION POLICY FOR FORESIDE FARM.
KITTENS & PUPPIES
Foreside Vaccination Protocols- discussion and justification
The following is our own research into vaccination protocols for puppies and kittens at Foreside Farm.
We have been advised this vaccination protocol by our own vets and have done our own research to consolidate our recommendations for the clarification and comfort of our clients.
We fully recommend full primary vaccinations and boosters for all animals that live and leave Foreside. We recommend a first vaccination appointment 4 days after the pup or kitten has left, to allow them to settle into their new home and a further vaccination 2 to 4 weeks later to complete the primary course with annual boosters therein.
We do not give the first vaccination whilst the puppy or kitten is still with their mother, the following is evidence to substantiate our policy. We advise prospective owners to read the below and to do your own research as it is so important to base your decisions on facts.
Vaccinations are an essential aspect of young companion animal medicine and immune protection. Timing of these vaccines is therefore just as important. There is a variety of vaccination protocols which can be followed and good reasoning for each, here it will be discussed when and why the initial course of puppy and kitten vaccinations are recommended. When neonates are born, they acquire immunity from antibodies in their mother’s colostrum immediately after they are born, which is essential to their immunity for the start of their life. Maternally derived antibodies (MDA) will circulate within the pup or kittens system until they wane, and have been reported to interfere with vaccinations eliciting active immunity if said pup or kitten is vaccinated when MDA remains at high levels within the young animals system (NOAH 2016). The WSAVA (World small animal veterinary association) recommends therefore that a primary course should conclude with the “last vaccine dose is given 16 weeks of age or older, MDA should have decreased to a low level” (WSAVA 2015) and so if following every 2-4 weeks vaccination from the age of 6 weeks would result in many vaccinations. This may be considered unnecessary overvaccination and instead the animal should be tested for MDA prior to vaccination, which again can be an unnecessary expense if a sufficient protocol is followed. NOAH (2016) states that for Nobivac DHP (a vaccine used in dogs covering distemper, adenovirus and parvovirus- all fatal viruses to pups-), “A single injection should establish active immunity in dogs 10 weeks of age or older”. This however leaves a small window of time where a pup with poor MDA may be susceptible to viral infection when the MDA wanes and adaptive immunity is required to protect the pup before first vaccination. Hence, NOAH (2016) goes onto say “Where earlier protection is required a first dose may be given to puppies from 6 weeks of age, but because maternally derived passive antibody can interfere with the response to vaccination a final dose should be given 2–4 weeks later i.e. at 10 weeks of age or older.” This illustrates that although an earlier vaccination schedule may partially cover those with poor MDA when the mother supplies poor quality colostrum, the earlier the vaccination is carried out, the less likely it is to take effect due to being inhibited by MDA. Very early vaccination (at 6 weeks) is only essential to the vaccination protocol if the pup/kitten is raised in a highly contaminated environment i.e. one that the pup for example has a very high likelihood of contracting parvovirus if another dog in the household have the virus, of which is highly contagious and fatal. Otherwise, if the pup is raised in a safe environment with fully vaccinated parents/ dogs within the household, such an early vaccination would be an unnecessary expense and waste of vaccines.
A mother’s colostrum may be insufficient for various reasons, a study by Claus et. al. (2006) illustrates the effect poor colostrum antibody levels has on a kitten’s serum (from blood) antibody levels- IgA and IgG. The paper discusses 3 groups of neonatal kittens, one with good colostrum, one fostered onto a queen with milk (without colostrum) and one on milk replacer. It was concluded in Claus et. al. (2006) that although the antibody levels in the colostrum dropped significantly from the first to the seventh day of lactation, in that time passive transfer of MDA was successful whereas in the other two groups of kittens, this was not observed as they lacked colostrum. This resulted in the colostrum group serum antibodies (MDA) being high in both IgA and IgG, and both other groups being equally low in both IgA and IgG. The paper goes onto add that those neonates that do not obtain sufficient antibody from the colostrum in the first 24 hours of life will be “at significant risk of infection”. This infection could be of any variety, however, includes infection by contracting the diseases common primary vaccinations cover.
This MDA interference is recognised in many species of neonate- kittens for example stated here in the contraindications- special warnings for Feligen RCP vaccine (covering panleucopenia virus, feline rhinotracheitis virus and feline calicivirus, all fatal viruses to a kitten);
“High level of maternal antibodies can interfere with the response to vaccination. Maternally derived antibodies, especially those against feline panleucopenia virus, can negatively influence the immune response to vaccination.” From feligen RCP datasheet NOAH (2016).
NOAH (2016) goes further to say that primary vaccinations of kittens can begin from a “minimum 9 weeks of age”, with no reason for contingency of earlier vaccination as with Nobivac DHP in pups (NOAH 2016). Due to MDA, the vaccination protocol even specifies a contingency third later vaccination at 15 weeks of age if MDA is presumed high for the first 2 vaccinations, similar to the recommendation in Nobivac DHP (NOAH 2016) for a third vaccination for the same reason.
In conclusion, at Foreside we do not complete the first vaccination before the animal leaves but do strongly advise the client to follow correct vaccination protocols and discuss with their own vet the protocols they use in practice.
References used are below;
Claus, M. A., Levy, J. K., MacDonald, K., Tucker, S. J. and Crawford, P. C. (2006) 'Immunoglobulin concentrations in feline colostrum and milk, and the requirement of colostrum for passive transfer of immunity to neonatal kittens', Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 8(3), pp. 184-191
Day, M.J., Horzinek, M.C., Schultz, R.D. and Squires, R.A., 2016. WSAVA Guidelines for the vaccination of dogs and cats. The Journal of small animal practice, 57(1), p.E1.
Feligen RCP, NOAH Compendium, date of publishing May 12, 2016, Date accessed: January 29, 2023 URL: https://www.noahcompendium.co.uk/?id=-460362#A-460362_11
Nobivac® DHP, NOAH Compendium, Publication date: May 12, 2016, Date accessed: January 29, 2023, URL: https://www.noahcompendium.co.uk/?id=-455402#A-455402_99