Just like us, pets need vaccinations to protect them from the risk of infectious diseases.

Unfortunately, with non-essential veterinary care less available during the Covid-19 lockdowns, coupled with the impact of the current cost-of-living crisis on owners, many pets now don’t have the right protection against illnesses.

We speak to Chris Bennett, community support manager at Woodgreen Pets Charity, about the importance of getting your pet vaccinated and what you need to be aware of.

Q: Why is it important to vaccinate my pet?

A: There are various infectious diseases that animals are at risk of, and these can range in severity from mild symptoms to life-threatening. Fortunately, there are vaccines available to prevent or reduce the effect of these diseases.

The Comet: Pets that explore outdoor environments and come into contact with other animals are more at risk of becoming sickPets that explore outdoor environments and come into contact with other animals are more at risk of becoming sick (Image: Cats photoshoot - Jaz Lehal cat photoshoot 24/3/21 Jaz Lehal)

There are many benefits to vaccinating your pets – most importantly, it gives them immunity so that they have more resistance to diseases that could make them seriously sick or be fatal, and in some cases, transfer to humans.

Preventing illness through vaccination is cheaper, easier and safer than treating symptoms, and potentially putting your pet’s health at risk.

Q: Do all pets need vaccinating?

A: The majority of dogs, cats and rabbits are more at risk because they regularly come into contact with other pets or explore outdoor environments. Since the UK’s pet population has rapidly increased in just a couple of years, there’s a greater risk of them coming into contact with other pets and getting ill. Even if your pet lives indoors, humans can still carry diseases and transfer them to their pets.

Q: When do pets need vaccinating?

The Comet: Rabbits can be vaccinated from four weeks oldRabbits can be vaccinated from four weeks old (Image: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED SIMON WAY SIMON@SIMONWAY.CO.UK 07971954733)

A: For the best chance of immunity, it’s more effective to vaccinate your pets when they are young. Young pets are more vulnerable to diseases, and early vaccination increases the chance that they will build better immunity for the rest of their lives. Most rabbits are vaccinated from four weeks old, whereas puppies and kittens are typically vaccinated at around eight weeks. Yearly boosters may then be required to top up their immunity.

If you’re unsure when you should be vaccinating your pet, your vet will be able to offer advice based on their age, species and vaccination history.

Q: How much does it cost to vaccinate pets?

A: On average, it cost £75 for the first course of vaccinations for puppies and kittens, with yearly boosters coming out slightly cheaper. It's worth getting in touch with your vet to discuss fees, as a lot of veterinary practices offer payment plans that allow you to spread the cost. Although it may seem expensive, it’s worth bearing in mind that vaccinations are considerably less money than treating an ill pet.

The Comet: Chris Bennett is the community support manager at Woodgreen Pets CharityChris Bennett is the community support manager at Woodgreen Pets Charity (Image: Woodgreen Pets Charity)

Q: What if I can’t afford to vaccinate my pets?

A: As you can be registered with more than one vet, we recommend shopping around for different options including your local vets, and asking about what payment options and preventative healthcare plans are available to find the best price.

If you’re thinking about getting a pet, it’s important to consider the cost of vaccinations and other treatments, such as flea and worming, to ensure that you can afford to help keep your pets healthy and happy.

For expert advice about all aspects of pet wellbeing, head to woodgreen.org.uk/pet-advice.