A SOUTHAMPTON vets is warning pet owners about rising numbers of dogs and cats seen with life-threatening diseases.

Veterinary practice easipetcare has claimed it is seeing more cases of dogs and cats affected by serious infections, which are preventable by vaccination.

They are urging pet owners in the area to vaccinate their animals in order to reduce risk to their own pet and spread of these diseases in the pet population.

The warning comes as several diseases, which were once rare in the UK, are on the rise.

easipetcare Southampton’s head of practice Kirby Davis said: “Historically we’ve been good at vaccinating our pets in the UK, reducing risk of preventable diseases.

"It was rare for us to see cases of infections such as distemper, parvovirus and panleucopaenia, which were commonplace in 1970’s and 80’s.

"But in recent years we’re seeing increasing numbers of dogs and cats affected by these diseases, which can be fatal.

"It is extremely distressing for the pet and their owner, and for everyone involved with their care.”

A kitten called Dave was brought into the practice when he was only two weeks old. Dave’s mother had not had protective vaccination and became infected with panleucopaenia virus while she was pregnant.

The infection passed to the kittens through the uterus, affecting their development.

All Dave’s brothers and sisters succumbed to the infection and died in their first few weeks of life. Dave was adopted by vet nurse, Nickie, whose nursing care helped him to survive.

Nickie said: “Dave is a wonderful happy cat, and a loving part of our family.

"The infection sadly caused permanent brain damage meaning he’s unsteady on his legs and unable to go outside.

"It’s so important to protect our pets from these preventable diseases.”

Vaccination rates have seen a recent dip according to the PDSA’s PAW report. Primary vaccinations of dogs, cats and rabbits dropped from 84 per cent in 2016 to just 66 per cent in 2019.

Reluctance to vaccinate has followed health scares, similar to the case in humans. The vets advise that while no vaccine is 100 per cent safe, the risks to health are much lower than the diseases they prevent.

In addition to falling vaccination rates, there has also been a steep rise in pets brought into the UK from countries where diseases, which are rare here, are widespread.

These animals may appear well at the time of import, but may still be carrying disease.