Pet Vaccinations

Vaccinations are just as important to pet health as they are to human health. Keeping up-to-date with your pet’s vaccinations will protect him or her from harmful and contagious diseases. Indoor animals can still be at risk for infectious diseases through open windows, dog parks, grooming salons, drinking out of puddles and those few occasions they manage to slip out of the door.

Figuring out which vaccinations are necessary for your pet and when they should get them can be a bit confusing but don’t let it deter you from getting your pet vaccinated. Speak with your veterinarian to determine the best immunization schedule for your furry friend. The doctor will take into account your pet’s breed, environment, health status, and lifestyle to determine which immunizations are most appropriate.

“Core” and “Non-Core” Vaccinations

For any geographic location, there are vital vaccines recommended for all pets based on the most common diseases found there. These are called core vaccines. Typically for dogs, vaccines to help prevent distemper, canine hepatitis, parainfluenza and canine parvovirus are the most recommended core vaccinations. Feline panleukopenia (also known as feline distemper), feline viral rhinotracheitis (feline herpesvirus), and feline calicivirus are the most common core vaccines for cats. Rabies vaccine is required by the state for all domestic pets since rabies is a fatal virus and all mammals, even humans, are at risk.

Non-core vaccinations are recommended based on your pet’s lifestyle. Each year we ask you to fill out a lifestyle questionnaire that will help us determine what diseases your pet may be at risk for exposure. For example, if your pet goes to boarding or grooming facilities or visits dog parks, they could be exposed to Kennel Cough and Canine Influenza and should be vaccinated to help protect them. If your dog drinks out of puddles or goes hiking they could be at risk for leptospirosis and should be vaccinated.

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease (transmitted to both people and animals) and can be fatal in people if un- or misdiagnosed as is often the case. If your cat goes outdoors at all, they can be at risk for Feline Leukemia, a highly contagious fatal disease that can be prevented.

You and your veterinarian can work to determine which non-core immunizations are suitable for your pet depending on age, breed, health status, and overall environment.

Vaccination Health Risks

Any medical procedure carries some degree of risk, but be advised that the risk to your pet’s health is substantially greater if he or she is not vaccinated at all. If you have serious concerns about adverse effects from immunizations, talk to your veterinarian who is there to help you learn more about what is best for your animal.

Severe anaphylactic or allergic reactions are rare. Typically, a pet would show symptoms within the first 15 minutes so we’d see it before your pet leaves the practice. Delayed hypersensitivity can occur and symptoms may not show for several hours to days. Hours after a vaccination, your pet may feel discomfort or swelling at the vaccination site, decreased activity, and perhaps a mild fever. However, these symptoms typically last no more than a day or two.

If your pet still shows signs of trouble lasting longer this or signs of an allergic reaction, however, you should contact your veterinarian. Allergic reactions usually show up as swollen face, hives or difficulty breathing. If your pet shows any of these symptoms, please contact us immediately.

Experts agree that the use of vaccinations in the last century has been an enormous benefit, preventing unnecessary death and disease in millions of animals. No matter the concern, always remember that your veterinarian is there to help and protect your pet.

Q: Are Vaccinations Really Necessary?

A: Yes! Vaccinations are necessary in preventing your cat or dog from contracting dangerous diseases. A vaccination is a killed or weakened version of a disease. It is injected into the body so that your pet’s immune system can attack it. Now that his immune system knows how to defeat the virus, if your pet is exposed to it later on in life, the immune system will remember the disease and can quickly thwart it.

Q: Which Vaccinations Are Necessary for My Cat?

A: The most essential vaccinations for cats are for panleukopenia (feline distemper), viral rhinotracheitis and calicivirus (upper respiratory diseases), and of course, rabies. Depending on your location and cat’s risk of exposure, vaccinations for feline leukemia and chlamydia may be necessary.

Q: Which Vaccinations Are Necessary for My Dog?

A: The most essential vaccinations for dogs are for parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis, and of course rabies. Depending on your location and dog’s risk of exposure, vaccinations for lyme disease or canine coronavirus may be necessary.

Q: How Often Does My Pet Need to be Vaccinated?

A: Until fairly recently, yearly booster shots were the standard recommendation. However, increasing evidence show that some vaccines last much longer than a year. Speak to your veterinarian for further recommendations as there is no one immunization schedule for all pets.

Q: When Should My Pet be Vaccinated?

A: Generally, six to eight weeks is when a routine immunization schedule starts, though animals born in shelters may be immunized earlier since there is more risk to possible exposure to disease.

Q: Why Do Puppies and Kittens Need So Many Vaccinations?

A: Antibodies ingested from their mother’s milk give temporary protection against disease and often see vaccines as just that. The antibodies can eliminate the vaccines before they get a chance to stimulate the immune system, so a series of vaccinations are given to boost your puppy or kitten’s protection as soon as the mother’s antibodies wear off, whenever that may be.

Q: I Have an Indoor Cat, Does She Still Need to Be Vaccinated?

A: Indoor pets are still at risk of exposure to disease as many diseases are airborne and can reach your pet through open windows, grooming salons, and the occasion slip out of the door.

Q: What Should I Expect After My Pet’s Vaccination?

A: Your pet may experience slight discomfort and swelling at the vaccination site. Decreased appetite and activity, and mild fever can occur within hours of the vaccination but typically last no longer that 48 hours. Though uncommon, if your pet still has significant discomfort lasting longer that this, contact your veterinarian.

Q: What Are the Risks for Getting Vaccinated?

A: Any medical procedure carries some degree of risk. However, your pet faces greater risk going out into the world not vaccinated at all. Most immediate discomfort disappears within a day or two but there is a risk, though highly uncommon, of an allergic reaction. If something looks concerning, such as continuous vomiting and diarrhea, high-like itchy skin, coughing or difficulty breathing, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Q: How Much Do Vaccinations Cost?

A: Vaccination costs vary from the type of vaccination to the place your pet is to receive the vaccination. Talk to your veterinarian about the clinic’s costs and if there are any deals on vaccination programs. And always remember, vaccinations cost a lot less than treating a serious illness later on.