As a pet owner it is your responsibility to keep your pet happy and healthy. Part of this responsibility is ensuring that your pet is vaccinated against certain diseases. Some of these diseases are fatal and some may be transmitted to humans.


Rabies is a fatal disease that affects the nervous systems of all mammals, including man. It is a legal requirement to keep rabies vaccinations up to date; your vet may tattoo the date of the vaccination in your dog’s ear and you will receive a certificate to show that the vaccination has been done. Rabies is a horrifying disease, found in all parts of Zimbabwe and is usually transmitted through the bite or saliva of an infected animal.
By law, every domestic dog has to have rabies vaccinations at 3 months, 1 year and every 3 years thereafter. Many vets recommend an annual rabies vaccination to be safe.
5 in 1 is a polyvalent vaccine protecting against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza and Leptospirosis.
Parvovirus (Parvo) usually affects puppies and is an extremely virulent pathogen causing death if untreated. Even if the disease is diagnosed early and puppies are treated, mortality is 50%. 
Puppies must be vaccinated at 6 weeks, and boosted at 10 weeks and 14 weeks of age. Thereafter vaccination should be done annually.
Parainfluenza is a non-fatal respiratory disease causing flu like symptoms in the dog. Dogs should be vaccinated annually.
Hepatitis is not often seen in dogs as the vaccination is very effective. It is a fatal disease in unvaccinated animals. Vaccination is annual.
Distemper is a common disease of dogs and usually fatal. The disease affects the various organs of the dog’s body, causing multiple symptoms, including respiratory distress, skin infections and intestinal upsets (vomiting and diarrhoea). It eventually invades the brain, causing nervous symptoms and death. Puppies should be vaccinated at 10 weeks and again at 14 weeks. Most vets in Zimbabwe recommend annual vaccination thereafter.
Leptospirosis is a disease carried by rats and transmitted through contact with rat urine, by being bitten or by eating infected carcasses. It is much more common in dogs than cats and can be transmitted to humans. In Zimbabwe it is more commonly found in Matabeleland. The disease affects the liver and kidneys and dogs commonly die of renal failure. Because the disease is very difficult to diagnose and to treat, it is essential to vaccinate your dog against it. Leptospirosis is one of the diseases covered in the 5:1 vaccination. Vets recommend that puppies under 8 weeks should not be vaccinated, so the first vaccine is given at 10 – 12 weeks, with a booster after 1 month and annual vaccination thereafter.


Rabies Although cats are less likely than dogs to contract and pass on rabies, and therefore it is not enforced by law, it is nevertheless essential to vaccinate cats at 3 months of age and then annually.
3 in 1 is a polyvalent vaccine protecting against Infectious Feline Rhinotracheitis (IFR), Infectious Feline Enteritis(IFE) and Feline Calici Virus.
IFR is a respiratory disease, sometimes incorrectly called cat flu, causing sneezing, coughing and wheezing and can progress to pneumonia. If untreated the disease can be fatal. Treatment is complicated and can be prolonged. Kittens should be vaccinated from 8 – 10 weeks, boosted a month later and then annually.
IFE is caused by a parvo virus. It causes vomiting and diarrhoea and is almost always fatal. Kittens should be vaccinated as above, at 8-10 weeks, boosted 1 month later and then annually.
Feline Calici Virus is a respiratory disease similar to IFR but is much less aggressive. It is not fatal but is distressing to the cat and owner.



6 – 8 WEEKSFirst Parvo
10 – 12 WEEKSFirst 5:1
14 – 16 WEEKSBooster 5:1 ; First Rabies
ANNUALLYBooster 5:1 ; Rabies
8 – 10 WEEKSFirst IFE/IFR (3:1)
12 – 14 WEEKSBooster 3:1 ; First Rabies
ANNUALLYBooster 3:1 ; Rabies
REF:     Dr H. Donohoe, Kamfinsa Veterinary Surgery, Harare, Zimbabwe
     Merck Veterinary Dictionary