If you are like most pet owners, you may feel a little confused about what vaccines your pet needs, how often they need them, and why. At Companion Animal Hospital, we want to help you understand what your pet needs to stay happy and healthy for years to come.
During the first year it may seem complicated and overwhelming, but it evens out when the puppy / kitten grows into an adult. Let’s start with the puppy / kitten….Much as it is with babies, newborn puppies and kittens need a series of vaccines to obtain immunity to diseases. When a puppies and kittens are first born, they have obtained the immunity they need to survive from their mother. However, since there is no certainty how long that immunity will last, the puppy/kitten needs help to keep that immunity going. Starting at 8 or 9 weeks of age, your pet is initially given a series of vaccinations every 3-4 weeks. Your pet is considered protected for 1 year after the last vaccine in this age range is given, usually by 5 months of age.
Once your dog grows up, they will need vaccines on an on-going basis to keep their health in check, and ‘booster’ their immunity. The following lists provide a brief overview on canine and feline vaccines:
Distemper/Parvo (DHPP – Given yearly or every three years depending on age. This will protect your dog against Distemper, Parvovirus (severe intestinal virus), Adenovirus – type 2 that causes infectious Canine Hepatitis (liver disease), and Parainfluenza (flu).
Bordatella (kennel cough) – Given every 6 months. Kennel Cough is an airborne disease that your dog can pick up from other dogs. This vaccine protects against tracheobronchitis (kennel cough). Many people feel this is not necessary if they are a single dog owner but if your dog even walks by another dog with this disease on a casual stroll through the neighborhood, they could pick it up.
Rabies – Given every 3 years AFTER the initial 1 year vaccine. This is required by law to be given to y our dog.
Lyme – Lyme Disease is present in our State and this vaccine can protect your pet. Lyme Disease can significantly affect your pet’s health by causing sore joints, lameness, loss of appetite, depression, and if left untreated, it can damage the kidneys. The vaccination is a series of 2 vaccines given initially 3 weeks apart and then once per year.
Leptospirosis – This is a bacteria that causes damage to the liver and kidneys and can be fatal fo your pet. This disease can also be transmitted to humans. The vaccination is a series of 2 vaccines, given initially 3 weeks apart and then once per year. The breed and lifestyle of your pet will determine if your dog is at risk and requires this vaccination.
Feline Distemper (FVRCP) – Given yearly or every three years depending on age. This will protect your cat against Rhinotrachetitis and Calicivrius, common upper respiratory diseases. Panleukopenia destroys the white blood cells, is highly contagious can be fatal.
Feline Leukemia – Before giving your cat this vaccine, test them to make sure they don’t have already have leukemia. If they are free of the disease, then they can safely be vaccinated. If your cat is around other cats or goes outside on a regular basis, have them receive this vaccine once per year. If, however, your pet stays indoors and has no contact with other cats, this vaccine can be skipped.
Rabies Vaccine – Given yearly. This, like the rabies vaccination for dogs, is required by law.
While the only vaccination that is required by law for both cats and dogs is the Rabies vaccine, each and every pet owner should assess their pets need for vaccines on a case by case basis. If you are unsure of your pets risk to a certain disease, ask your veterinarian for guidance and develop a vaccine plan that is most suitable to your pet. Keep in mind that vaccines protect your pet against diseases that can be fatal to your pet. The above vaccines will give your pets long, happy and healthy lives, and will give you peace of mind!