Pet Vaccines help protect against many diseases that affect pets. Vaccinating your pet has long been regarded as one of the simplest ways to help him live a long, healthy life. Not only are there different vaccines for different diseases, there are different kinds and combinations of vaccines. Pet vaccines have their own set of risks and benefits that must be evaluated for every pet their lifestyle and health. Your veterinarian can work out a vaccination program that will provide the safest and best defense for your individual animal.
Understanding Pet Vaccines
Pet vaccinations help ready the body’s immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which appear like the disease-causing organism to the immune system but don’t really cause disease. When the vaccine is introduced to the body, the immune system is mildly stimulated. If a pet is ever exposed to the real disease, his immune system is now prepared to identify and fight it off completely or decrease the severity of the illness.
Vaccines are very important to taking care of the health of your pet. That said, not every pet needs to be vaccinated against every condition. It is very important to go over with your veterinarian a vaccination protocol that’s right for your pet. Variables that should be examined include age, medical history, environment, travel routines and way of life.
Probabilities are your vet’s recommendations will break down into two categories: core pet vaccines and non-core vaccines. Core pet vaccinations are those recommended for every pet, while non-core petvaccines may be advised based on your pet’s way of life. For example, your vet may suggest certain non-core vaccinations if your cat or dog is outside the house only or boarded often.
Many pet vaccines can be given to pets as young as 6 weeks old, so talk to your vet about setting up the optimal vaccination schedule for your cat or dog, kitten or puppy.
To protect your pet from infectious diseases, keep your dog or cat’s essential vaccinations up-to-date. This is important even if your pet is kept mostly indoors. Several transmittable diseases are airborne and your pet might easily be exposed through an open window. There is additionally always a risk that your pet could accidentally slip out the door. Boarding kennels, dog parks and grooming salons are all areas where your pet is most likely to be exposed to contagious diseases so be sure to consult with your veterinarian before taking your pet to any of these places
Essential Vaccinations for Your Dog
- DHPP – Often called the canine distemper vaccine, this is the most common combination vaccine given to dogs. The initials DHPP refer to the diseases included in the vaccine. Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvo and Parainfluenza
- Rabies – Rabies is a contagious viral disease that can affect many mammals including dogs, cats, horses, cattle, and people. It can also spread to wildlife such as the skunk, raccoon, fox, coyote, bat, and others. Rabies is almost always deadly for an infected animal or person. Rabies vaccinations for dogs, cats and ferrets are required by law in Florida.
Other Vaccines for Dogs
Your veterinarian may also suggest other vaccines for your dog depending on where you live and your dog’s way of life:
- Leptospirosis – Normally included as part of the distemper combination vaccine (making it a DHLPP), this bacterial infection is most prevalent in moist climates in which there are areas of standing or slow-moving water. This disease can also be transferred from animals to humans. All breeds and sizes of dogs are at risk. Lepto can be a very harmful disease and can be fatal if not identified and treated early on. It generally attacks a dog’s liver and kidneys and can lead to organ damage or failure.
- Bordetella (commonly called “kennel cough”) – The bordetella virus triggers an incredibly contagious upper respiratory infection. Commonly referred to as kennel cough in dogs, Bordatella bronchoseptica infection isn’t typically a lethal illness but some pets generate complications of pneumonia from the disease. Once infected, dogs usually develop a harsh, hacking cough that may sound as though an item is caught in their throat. Your veterinarian may suggest this vaccination before your dog goes to a dog park, groomer, boarding kennel, doggie daycare or dog show. Bordatella is frequently required by boarding facilities, doggie daycares and groomer before entry.
- Lyme Disease – A bacterial infection carried by ticks, this disease is very prevalent in certain parts of the country– in particular, the east and west coasts and the areas around the Great Lakes. Fewer cases of lyme disease occur in Florida than in the northeastern US.
- Canine Influenza – This viral upper respiratory disease originated at a Florida racetrack in 2004 and has quickly spread across the country. Outbreaks are prevalent in animal shelters and boarding facilities.
- Corona Virus – Canine coronavirus infection (CCV) is a highly contagious intestinal disease that primarily attacks the intestinal tract. It is more prevalent in the southern United States.
Essential Vaccines for Your Cat
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP) – Usually called the “distemper” shot, this combo vaccine protects against three diseases: feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia (sometimes called “feline distemper”).
- Rabies – Rabies virus is deadly and all mammals, including humans, are vulnerable to infection. Rabies is an inflammatory infection that specifically affects the gray matter of the cat’s brain and its central nervous system. Florida law mandates that dogs, cats and ferrets, 4 months of age or older, be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian.
Other Vaccines for Cats
- Chlamydia – Chylamydiosis refers to a bacteria based persistent respiratory infection, caused by the Chlamydia psittaci bacterium. Cats that have developed this infection will often exhibit traditional signs of an upper respiratory infection, such as watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. The vaccination for it is often included in the distemper combination vaccine (making it an FVRCP-C).
- Feline Leukemia (FeLV) – Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is second only to trauma as the leading cause of death in cats, killing 85 % of persistently infected felines within three years of diagnosis. The virus generally brings about anemia or lymphoma. FeLV is a viral infection which is only transmitted through close contact, and this vaccine is generally only suggested for cats that go outside the house.
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) – The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is a slow virus that afflicts a cat’s immune system over a period of years. FIV is a viral infection that is only transmitted through close contact, and this vaccine is generally only advised for cats that carry on outdoors.
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) – Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal, incurable illness that affects cats. Most common in catteries and feral colonies, generally house cats do not possess a notable risk of contracting this disease.
- Bordetella – This bacteria triggers extremely contagious upper respiratory infections. Your veterinarian may suggest this vaccine before your cat goes to a boarding kennel or groomer.
To protect your pet from contagious diseases, keep your dog or cat’s important vaccinations up-to-date. This is crucial even if your pet is kept mostly in the house. Several contagious diseases are airborne and your pet could easily be exposed through an open window. There is also constantly a risk that your pet could accidentally slip out the door. Boarding kennels, dog parks and grooming salons are all areas where your pet is likely to be exposed to contagious diseases so be sure to consult with your veterinarian before taking your pet to any of these places.
Web MD has a handy vaccination schedule for dogs and cats including core and non-core vaccination schedules Vaccination schedules.