There are a number of viral diseases prevalent in our cats and dogs, several of which can be fatal. Fortunately, vaccination provides extremely good immunity to the fatal diseases. It is only when vaccinations are allowed to lapse, or unvaccinated animals are exposed, that your cats or dogs are at risk of contracting these diseases. Below is a brief summary of the viral diseases vaccinated against in the Clutha region.


Cats are vaccinated against a number of viral diseases:

  • Feline Panleucopaenia is similar to canine parvovirus; fortunately it is seldom seen these days. This disease is frequently fatal, killing cats in a matter of hours, and often without any obvious symptoms. Kittens may die of heart failure due to the virus infecting the cardiac muscle.
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a major viral disease in the present day. We see a significant number of cats with Feline Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (FAIDS) every year. Not all die acutely but it is a life long issue affecting their health and shortening their life span.
  • Calicivirus and Rhinotracheitis are also routinely vaccinated against. These are respiratory viruses that can cause ulceration of the mouth, snuffles and conjunctivitis.


 Dogs require vaccination against a different group of viruses.

  • Distemper is almost always a fatal disease with very few dogs surviving. Outbreaks occur as epidemics, sweeping through the unvaccinated population until stopped by mass vaccination or having no more susceptible dogs to infect.
  • Parvovirus causes an acute gastroenteritis, and can be fatal in young, unvaccinated dogs. In very young pups it will also infect the cardiac muscles causing acute death. Parvovirus is always present in the canine population.
  • Infectious Canine Hepatitis is a virus that attacks the liver and is frequently fatal. Fortunately seldom seen today.
  • Parainfluenza is involved in Kennel Cough – a dry hacking cough that is extremely distressing for the dog and owner. While not fatal it can be very harmful to the very young or old dog, and any dog with underlying cardiac or respiratory problems.


Vaccination will prevent most of the viral diseases listed above, and significantly reduce the severity of the rest. Don’t endanger the life of your cat or dog by not vaccinating – make an appointment today to see your vet.


Written by: Suzanne Craig BVCs - Small Animal Vet, based at Balclutha and used in the local newspaper (The Leader) in the monthly Pet Corner section.