Vaccinations keep pets healthy and prevent disease. Your pet’s immunity against these diseases becomes fully effective once your pet reaches 20-24 weeks of age, provided all vaccination protocols have been followed.
In most cases, pets do not experience any side effects or adverse reactions, but it is always important to watch your pet closely for up to 72 hours after receiving any vaccine. Your pet may experience soreness or tenderness at the injection site, decreased appetite and/or decreased activity following a vaccine—these symptoms are normal and should resolve within 24 hours. If your pet experiences any of the following, please seek veterinary attention immediately: Facial swelling, hives (these generally look like mosquito bites), extreme lethargy, persistent vomiting and/or diarrhea or collapse. Medical intervention is necessary to counteract these symptoms.
What are the recommended vaccinations for pets?
Rabies – This vaccination is required by law. Rabies can affect all warm-blooded animals including humans. Transmission usually occurs from the bite of an infected animal. The main reservoir of rabies is now found in wild animals like raccoons, foxes, skunks and bats. The virus attacks the brain and central nervous system and is almost always fatal. The first shot is given at 12 weeks and then repeated in one year. If kept current, all subsequent vaccinations are good for three years.
Additional vaccinations for dogs:
DHPP – This 5-in-one vaccination is advised for all dogs. Initial vaccines are a series of three shots given 3-4 weeks apart through the 16 weeks of age. This vaccine protects against the following diseases:
Distemper – A highly contagious viral disease affecting the respiratory and nervous systems. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions and frequently death.
Hepatitis/Adenovirus – A viral disease affecting the liver and kidneys. Symptoms can be mild to severe and include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and jaundice. Death can occur.
Parainfluenza – The disease is airborne and can cause epidemics wherever large numbers of dogs are concentrated. Symptoms include a persistent, hacking cough lasting 2-4 weeks. Complications like secondary infections and pneumonia could be fatal, especially in puppies.
Parvovirus – This viral infection is highly contagious. It is primarily spread through contact with the feces of an infected dog. The virus is capable of living for long periods of time outside the body and could contaminate lawn, soil, bowls, cages, shoes and other objects. Symptoms include depression, fever, loss of appetite, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Onset can be sudden and rapidly fatal, especially in puppies.
Leptospirosis – This vaccine can be given alone or incorporated into the DHPP vaccine for no additional cost. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease typically spread by contact with water exposed to wildlife urine (foxes, deer, etc.). In severe cases, dogs may exhibit weakness, fever, vomiting, kidney failure, hemorrhage and jaundice. This disease can then be transmitted from dog to human through contact with their urine.
Bordetella – This is a bacterial infection which, along with other viruses, can cause infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough). Symptoms include a persistent, hacking cough lasting 2-4 weeks. Kennel cough is highly contagious and airborne. It is common at kennels and anywhere large groups of dogs are together. Vaccination is highly recommended for dogs who go to boarding facilities, grooming parlors, doggie daycare and the dog park. Most professional facilities require the vaccination in order to receive services.
Lyme Disease – The Lyme bacterium is spread by ticks (commonly, the deer tick). Although Lyme Disease can be present but show no symptoms at all, it is important to keep an eye out for any of the following: limping, shifting leg lameness (limping that occurs in different legs over the course of time), fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and swelling of the joints. Vaccination is recommended for dogs living in wooded areas or who go hiking or camping with their families. The initial vaccination is a series of 2 shots given 2-3 weeks apart. If kept current, all subsequent vaccinations are given annually. People can also contract this disease through tick bites.
Additional vaccinations for cats:
FVRCP – 4-in-one vaccination recommended for all cats that prevents the following diseases.
Feline Panleukopenia/Distemper – A highly contagious disease causing fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. Onset is often sudden and could be rapidly fatal.
Rhinotracheitis (herpes virus) – A highly contagious disease causing sneezing, loss of appetite, depression, fever, eye inflammation and, as the disease progresses, drainage from the nose and eyes. Severe infection can be fatal, especially in kittens.
Calicivirus – Highly contagious and presents with similar symptoms as rhinotracheitis. Additional symptoms include painful sores on the mouth and tongue.
Pneumonitis (caused by chlamydia psittaci) – Symptoms are similar to rhinotracheitis and calicivirus.
Leukemia – One of the most dangerous infectious diseases affecting cats today. Cats can harbor the infection for many years before becoming symptomatic and are a potential source of infection for every cat they make contact with during that time. There is no specific treatment or cure and the end result is usually natural death or necessary euthanasia. Symptoms include immune suppression, chronic infections, anemia, weight loss, leukemia and other cancers. This vaccination is highly recommended for cats with any access to the outdoors.
FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) – This is a serious, multi-systemic, viral disease affecting cats. It can attack the abdominal lining, liver, kidneys, eyes, brain and more. Symptoms are variable and include fever, weight loss, abdominal swelling, difficulty breathing, anemia and more. Testing for the disease is not accurate, diagnosis is difficult and there is no adequate treatment that is consistently available. This disease is usually fatal. Vaccination is highly recommended.