Vaccines are an important part of your pet’s wellness care plan, and their vaccines should be kept current to ensure they are protected from dangerous diseases. Our team at Town and Country Animal Hospital wants to help by providing vaccination guidelines for your pet.
When should my pet be vaccinated?
Puppies and kittens should start vaccinations at around 6 to 8 weeks of age, and should receive booster vaccinations every three to four weeks until they are about 16 weeks of age. Adult dogs and cats will typically need vaccines on a yearly basis, but some vaccines are required every three years. Pets need vaccinations throughout their life, and our veterinary professionals will determine the best vaccination protocol for your pet.
What core vaccines should my dog receive?
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) defines a core vaccine as one that protects from diseases that are endemic to the region, have public health significance, are highly infectious, and pose a risk of severe disease, and that is required by law. All pets need core vaccines. For dogs, core vaccines include:
- Rabies — Rabies is a deadly virus that is typically spread through the bite of an infected animal. Racoons, skunks, bats, coyotes, and foxes can transmit the disease. Signs in dogs include fever, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering, and seizures. No cure is available, and once signs occur, the disease is almost always fatal. The rabies virus is zoonotic, which means that the disease can be passed to humans.
- Canine distemper — This viral infection is spread by contacting an infected animal, or the airborne droplets from their sneeze or cough. Wildlife, such as foxes, wolves, coyotes, raccoons, and skunks, can transmit the disease. The virus attacks the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, and nervous system, causing signs that include fever, lethargy, nasal discharge, vomiting and, in some cases, head tilt, muscle spasms, and seizures.
- Parvovirus — This viral infection is spread by contacting an infected animal or the animal’s fecal material. The virus attacks the gastrointestinal tract, causing signs including fever, vomiting, and severe, bloody diarrhea. Puppies are most commonly affected, and the disease can lead to septic shock.
- Infectious hepatitis — Caused by an adenovirus, infectious hepatitis is spread by contacting an infected dog, their urine, ocular secretions, or nasal discharge. Signs include fever, cough, nasal discharge, vomiting, and diarrhea.
What additional vaccines may my dog require?
Depending on your dog’s lifestyle, they may require these other vaccines.
- Lyme disease — This bacterial disease is transmitted by the black-legged tick, and causes fever, swollen lymph nodes, joint pain, and in some cases, kidney failure.
- Leptospirosis — This bacterial disease is typically transmitted when your dog ingests water contaminated with infected urine. Signs include fever, lethargy, jaundice, and painful eyes.
- Bordetella bronchiseptica — This is the most common bacterial component that causes kennel cough. Signs include a honking cough, ocular and nasal discharge, and lethargy.
- Parainfluenza virus — This is a common viral component that causes kennel cough.
- Canine influenza virus — This is a contagious respiratory disease caused by a specific Type A influenza virus. Signs include fever, cough, and nasal discharge.
What core vaccines should my cat receive?
Core vaccines for cats include:
- Rabies — This deadly disease affects more cats than dogs in the United States, causing signs including behavioral changes, aggression, drooling, and loss of muscle control.
- Feline herpesvirus-1 — This highly contagious viral infection attacks the respiratory system. Transmission occurs through aerosolized respiratory droplets, and signs include nasal and ocular discharge, sneezing, and lethargy.
- Calicivirus — This highly contagious viral infection attacks the respiratory system and oral mucosa. Transmission occurs through aerosolized respiratory droplets, and signs include nasal and ocular discharge, sneezing, and oral ulcerations.
- Panleukopenia — Caused by feline parvovirus, this highly contagious disease attacks the rapidly dividing cells found in the gastrointestinal tract, bone marrow, and a developing fetus. Infection is spread by contacting infected urine, feces, and nasal secretions. Signs include fever, lethargy, nasal discharge, diarrhea, and vomiting. Pregnant females may abort or give birth to brain-damaged kittens.
What additional vaccines may my cat require?
Your cat may need additional vaccines depending on their lifestyle.
- Feline leukemia — Feline leukemia is a viral infection that can cause lifelong disease, leading to a weakened immune system and chronic illness.
- Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) — This viral infection attacks the immune system, leaving the affected cat vulnerable to other infections.
- Chlamydophila felis — This is a bacterial infection that targets the conjunctiva, causing painful, watery eyes.
- Bordetella bronchiseptica — This is a bacterial infection causing respiratory disease.
Are vaccines safe for my pet?
Any vaccine can potentially cause a reaction, but the benefits far outweigh the potential risks. The most common adverse reactions to vaccinations are a short period of malaise, and mild swelling and pain at the vaccination site. If your pet has had a negative reaction to a vaccination in the past, ensure you inform our veterinary professionals.
To ensure your pet stays happy and healthy, their vaccinations must be kept up to date. Our veterinary professionals will be happy to determine an appropriate vaccination protocol based on your pet’s lifestyle. If your pet is due for their vaccines, contact our team at Town and Country Animal Hospital, and schedule an appointment.