Veterinary Vaccinations

 Veterinary Vaccinations Protect your Pet and Whole Family

Veterinary Vaccinations can play a very important role in your pet’s life. When utilized properly, they can be an integral part of keeping our furry little friends healthy and free from certain contagious, life threatening diseases. There are many factors to consider when a veterinarian vaccinates a pet. These include but are not limited to age, health, lifestyle, and how often they should be administered. All too often vaccines are considered routine, but they should be treated as any other medical or surgical procedure and given the same amount of thought and care.

Veterinary Vaccinations for Pets Picture with cute dogs and cats

Core and Non-core  Veterinary Vaccinations

There are many veterinary vaccinations  that have been developed for our pets. Some have been around for years while others have come and gone. Below are the vaccines offered at the Animal Hospital of Dunedin. They are separated into core vaccines and non-core vaccines. Core vaccinations are crucial vaccines that every pet needs to protect them from severe illness or death.  Non-core vaccinations are not needed by all pets, but take lifestyle factors into consideration.  It is important for your pet to have yearly Veterinary Exams so your Veterinarian can individually tailor your pet’s immunization schedule to their specific needs.

How Often Do Pets Need Veterinary Vaccinations?

When your pet is young, such as a puppy or kitten, there is a standard schedule of vaccinations that need several sets of vaccine boosters just like in young children.  These boosters provide them with as much Core protection as possible when they need it the most.  Your local state and city government will determine how often a rabies vaccination must be given.  Your Veterinarian will know these guidelines and help you decide on what other protective vaccinations your pet needs during their yearly exam based on your pet’s needs and risks.   If you travel with your pet, regularly have them groomed or kenneled, which puts them in contact with other animals, your Veterinarian may recommend your pet receive vaccinations more often and include Non-core preventative vaccinations.

For Our Canine Friends:

1-DA2PP-This vaccine is commonly referred to as the Distemper Vaccine. It is actually a multi-valent vaccine, or a vaccine that protects against more than one disease. The Distemper Vaccine considered a core vaccine. A puppy can start receiving this vaccine as early as 6 weeks of age. The puppy must receive a booster vaccination every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age to ensure that the vaccine is most effective.

After the initial series of puppy shots, the vaccine will be boosted in 1 year. Like the Rabies Vaccine, this vaccine has been shown to provide protection for a dog for a number of years, so subsequent boosters can be administered every 3 years. The other option is to perform what is called a vaccine titer which is a blood test that shows if the body “remembers” the vaccine. If there is adequate immune response noted on the titer, revaccination is not necessary.

Let’s break down the Distemper vaccine. The D in DA2PP stands for Distemper. Distemper Virus causes disease that affect both young and old dogs. The disease is characterized by neurologic signs which can be accompanied by respiratory and gastrointestinal signs as well. It can be fatal. The A stands for Adenovirus. Adenovirus is also known as Canine Infectious Hepatitis. This disease can cause a wide range of symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, liver disease, and death. Oftentimes, this disease is mistaken for poisoning due to its rapid course. The first P in DA2PP stands for Parainfluenza, a highly contagious viral disease that is characterized by coughing, nasal discharge, lethargy, and fever. The final P stands for Parvovirus. Parvovirus causes severe diarrhea usually in young dogs. It is spread through the feces of infected animals and can be fatal.

2-Rabies-The Rabies vaccine is required by law and each pet receiving a vaccination is also required to be registered with a license for the county in which they live. It is a core vaccine. A pet can receive the vaccine after they reach 12 weeks of age. Typically, at the Animal Hospital of Dunedin, the vaccine is administered between the 12 and 16 week DA2PP boosters, at 14 weeks old. The initial vaccination is good for 1 year. Each subsequent vaccine, can be administered every three years. Rabies is a fatal neurologic disease that is transmitted to a pet through the salvia from a bite of an infected animal. Remember Ol Yeller?

3-Bordatella-In the past, this vaccine was inappropriately called the Kennel Cough Vaccine. In fact, the Bordatella Vaccine, helps to protect against Bordatella Bronciseptica, which is one of a number of infectious agents that make up the disease known as Kennel Cough Complex. The vaccine is considered a “lifestyle” or non-core vaccine. The vaccine is given after determining the potential exposure and risk for your pet. Any pet that is regularly groomed, boarded, goes to the doggie park, or has exposure to high risk situations should be considered a candidate for this vaccine. Signs of Kennel Cough include a loud hacking cough which is often described as a “goose-honking cough.” Kennel Cough is similar to you or I catching a common cold. It is usually self-limiting, meaning it can clear up on its own, but on occasion, it can develop into severe respiratory illness like bronchitis or pneumonia.

4-Leptospirosis-Leptospirosis is another non-core vaccine. You and your pet’s lifestyle will dictate whether or not the vaccine is an appropriate part of your pet’s health care plan. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease caused by a bacteria. Zoonotic means that, if infected, a dog can spread the disease to humans. Leptospirosis can cause liver and kidney disease and can be a very serious problem.

For Our Feline Friends:

1-Rabies-As with their canine counterparts, cats should receive a first Rabies Vaccine as a kitten between 12 and 16 weeks of age. The initial Rabies vaccine is good for 1 year. Each subsequent vaccine, can be administered every three years. Rabies is a fatal neurologic disease that is transmitted to a pet through the salvia from a bite of an infected animal.

2-FVRCP-This vaccine is often referred to as the feline distemper vaccine. It is a multi-valent vaccine meaning it protects against a number of diseases. These include the Panleukopenia Virus, Calicivirus, and Rhinotracheitis (which is caused by a Herpesvirus). Kittens will receive an initial series of vaccinations to ensure that the vaccine is providing adequate protection and a booster will then be required in one year. After the one year booster vaccination, the feline will begin to receive the vaccination every 3 years. Blood titering is also an option for cats as well.

Panleukopenia is a type of Parvovirus that can attack the bone marrow, gastrointestinal system, and lymph system. Signs of disease can include diarrhea, vomiting, and bone marrow suppression. Calicivirus causes a disease, mostly in kittens, which can include fever, ulceration in the mouth, and limping. Rhinotracheitis is a disease characterized by ulceration on the surface of the eye with nasal discharge. Some felines will develop secondary bacterial infections or chronic sinusitis.

3-FeLV-The FeLV vaccine is a non-core vaccine that protects against the Feline Leukemia Virus. A cat will receive an initial series of vaccines as a kitten, followed by yearly boosters thereafter. This vaccine series is typically started around 9 weeks of age after testing is performed to make sure the pet does not have an active infection of the Leukemia Virus. Feline Leukemia is a viral infection that can be transmitted from cat to cat through bite wounds or the sharing of water bowls. It is a virus that can have serious health implications for a feline as it can cause severe immune and bone marrow suppression and lead to cancers like lymphoma. Any cat that goes outdoors or has contact with other cats through screened in porches should be vaccinated.