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Vaccines

While nursing, pets receive antibodies and nutrients from their mother’s milk. When nursing stops, pets become more susceptible to illnesses because their immune systems do not have the same support they once did. As part of a preventative care routine, pet vaccinations can help protect your pet from life-threatening diseases.

For most pets, routine vaccinations start around the age of 6 to 8 weeks old and continue regularly throughout adulthood. Some vaccinations are even combined into a single syringe so a pet experiences fewer injections. After being vaccinated, most young pets take about 5 days to build protective antibodies with complete protection taking place after 14 days. Some vaccines require multiple dosages given over a short period of time, and most require booster shots every 6 months to 3 years. Pets who have been vaccinated have an advantage over those who have not. When a disease is detected, your vaccinated pet’s immune system quickly responds, decreasing severity of the illness or preventing it altogether. While it is rare, some pets do not develop immunity from their vaccinations and still become ill. If your pet has been vaccinated, is current on all of their booster shots, and has never shown signs of illness or disease, it has likely been successfully vaccinated.

Pet owners should note that vaccinations are preventative, not curative. A vaccination will prevent an illness, but if your pet is already suffering from a disease, a vaccine will not cure them.

Core and non-core pet vaccinations

There are several pet vaccinations that are necessary for all pets and others that are recommended only under special circumstances. Core vaccinations are those that are commonly recommended for all pets, and non-core vaccinations include those that are only administered to pets considered to be “at-risk.” Necessary vaccines depend on local regulations, geographic location, and your pet’s lifestyle. Your pet will be vaccinated according to their risk of exposure and your veterinarian will discuss the best options for your pet.

Canine vaccinations

Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus (DHPP) – These vaccines are considered core vaccines. Puppies will receive their first vaccination at 8 weeks of age, and booster shots will be given once every 4 weeks until your puppy is 16 weeks of age. Vaccinations are then administered once a year with your dog's annual health exam.

Coronavirus - This is a core vaccine that will be added into a puppies initial vaccine series.

Bordetella ("kennel" or "canine" cough) – This is a non-core vaccine, and your veterinary health care team will help you determine if your dog is at risk. The vaccination is first given to puppies when they are over 3 weeks of age. Booster shots are then given every 6 to 12 months, depending on the dog’s exposure.

Rabies – The rabies vaccine is considered a core vaccine. The initial vaccine is first given when the puppy reaches 12 weeks of age. A booster shot is necessary after 1 year, then every 2nd year following that.

Leptospirosis – This non-core vaccine can be given to a puppy aged 6 weeks or older (with a booster 4 weeks later) and is an annual vaccination that is intended to prevent bacterial infections in the kidneys, liver, and other major organs. Depending on your dog’s risk of exposure, this vaccination could be unnecessary.*We have a low prevalence of leptospirosis in our area and do not stock this vaccine. We can make arrangements to have this vaccine if you are planning on traveling to an area with known leptospirosis risk.

Lyme – The Lyme vaccination is a non-core vaccine that is first administered when the puppy reaches 8 weeks of age. The first booster is given to the puppy 4 weeks later, and annual boosters are recommended for dogs that reside in areas with increased exposure to ticks carrying Lyme disease. *We do not stock this vaccine, however, we can make arrangements to have it ordered if needed.

Feline vaccinations

Feline Herpesvirus, Calici Virus, Feline Distemper - These vaccines are considered core vaccines. Your kitten will receive their first vaccinations between the ages of 6 and 8 weeks, and they will need to be repeated once every 4 weeks until your kitten reaches 15 to 17 weeks old (depending on when vaccinations were started). Vaccinations are then administered once a year with your cat's annual health exam.

Rabies – This vaccine is also a core vaccination for kittens. The initial vaccine is first given when the kitten reaches 12 weeks of age. A booster shot is necessary after 1 year, then every 2nd year following that.

Feline Leukemia (FeLV) – Feline Leukemia is a non-core vaccine and your veterinary health care team will help you determine if your cat is at risk. The first vaccine is given when a kitten is 9 weeks old and requires a booster 4 weeks later. Booster shots are recommended to be updated annually at your cat's annual health exam.

Preventable canine diseases and symptoms:

  • Adenovirus – a life-threatening disease that causes hepatitis.
  • Distemper – also a life-threatening disease that causes diarrhea, pneumonia, seizures, and vomiting.
  • Parainfluenza and Bordetella – both are illnesses that are highly contagious and cause "kennel cough". While it is generally not life-threatening, symptoms include a non-stop runny nose and excessive coughing.
  • Parvovirus – a life-threatening disease that results in diarrhea, vomiting, and deterioration of the white blood cells.
  • Coronavirus - a disease causing diarrhea and vomiting, similar to parvovirus, although symptoms are less severe.
  • Rabies - a fatal disease attacking the central nervous system. Because there isn’t a cure for rabies, animals that contract the disease are euthanized. The disease is spread though the saliva of infected animals - mainly through bite wounds.
  • Leptospirosis – a life-threatening disease that causes severe liver and kidney damage and hemorrhaging within the lungs. Symptoms include loss of appetite, yellowed eyes (jaundice), vomiting, lethargy, and urine that is dark brown in color.
  • Lyme – a disease transferred through ticks. Symptoms include circular skin rashes, depression, fatigue, fever, and joint pain. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics if it is caught in earlier stages.

Preventable feline diseases and symptoms:

  • Herpesvirus and Calicivirus – highly contagious upper respiratory illnesses that cause fever, malaise, runny nose, and watery eyes.
  • Panleukopenia (also known as Feline Distemper) - a life threatening disease that causes pets to suffer dehydration, diarrhea, low white blood cell count, and vomiting.
  • Rabies - a fatal disease attacking the central nervous system. Because there isn’t a cure for rabies, animals that contract the disease are euthanized. The disease is spread though the saliva of infected animals - mainly through bite wounds.
  • Feline Leukemia Virus – a potentially life threatening virus spread in saliva that causes chronic immune suppression, leading to frequent infection and illness. It also often results in cancer.
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) – much like HIV in humans, FIV is a retroviral disease (one that duplicates itself and integrates with the host’s DNA) that causes immune suppression. Most cats that have the illness appear normal for years until the disease eventually depletes the immune system entirely, resulting in death. This disease is also spread in the saliva but is spread through bite wounds. The current vaccines on the market for this disease have less than favorable efficacy - therefore the best prevention is to keep your cat indoors and always have new feline members tested prior to introducing them into your household!
  • Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) - a highly fatal, non-curable disease of multi-cat households, spread through cat feces. It causes inflammation to blood vessels causing them to leak. Cats showing signs of distended abdomens or difficulty breathing, weight loss, and tiredness should be tested. The current vaccines on the market for this disease also have less than favorable efficacy - therefore the best prevention is to keep your cat indoors and always have new feline members tested prior to introducing them into your household!

Pet vaccination concerns

Similar to human vaccinations, pet vaccinations do carry a small risk of side-effects. While negative side-effects do exist, it is important to note that your pet is statistically more likely to develop a life-threatening illness when not vaccinated, than to suffer adverse results from a vaccination. None-the-less, it is important to remain informed so you can ask your veterinarian the appropriate questions at your pet’s appointment.

After being vaccinated, the injection site can be swollen or sore. Some pets also have a reduced appetite, fever, and experience lethargy. These side-effects should diminish over the next 24 to 48 hours. If you notice your pet’s side-effects are not subsiding, please contact our office. Very rarely, pets develop an allergy to a vaccine. Allergies can be detected within minutes of receiving a vaccination and if left untreated, can result in death. If you witness any of the following, contact our office immediately: collapse, non-stop diarrhea, continual vomiting, difficulty breathing, itching, or swelling of the legs or face.

If you have any questions about vaccinations or scheduling new pet vaccinations, you may contact our office at your convenience.