Vaccines assist the body in learning how to defend itself from disease without the risks of a full-blown infection. The immune response to a vaccine may cause tiredness and discomfort for a day or two, but the resulting protection can be permanent. In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month this August, Mount Carmel Animal Hospital shares the importance of vaccines for pets, including the purpose of each one.
Puppies and kittens should obtain their first vaccinations by eight weeks old. They will need vaccination boosters every two to four weeks to be fully protected at about 20 weeks. Completing the entire vaccination series is vital because skipping them may leave your pet with incomplete protection. Since it’s National Immunization Awareness Month, here is a list of common vaccines for dogs and cats.
- Rabies: This zoonotic (can be spread between animals and people) virus causes neurologic complications in affected animals and is deadly. Rabies is a core vaccine because a dog who slips out the door may quickly encounter an infected animal. All domestic animals are required by law to be vaccinated for rabies in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
- DHPP (Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvo-virus, Para-influenza) This combination vaccine protects against a multitude of diseases. Canine distemper is highly contagious. This virus attacks multiple system and can cause symptoms ranging from fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and discharge from the nose and eyes to pneumonia, seizures, paralysis, and death. Canine Adenovirus (also known as infectious hepatitis) is transmitted when a dog gets in contact with infected urine or eye or nose discharge. Infectious hepatitis often causes mild upper respiratory symptoms. Parvovirus is another highly contagious and often deadly disease. This virus attacks the body’s gastrointestinal tract and immune system, causing severe vomiting and diarrhea and attacking immune cells. Parainfluenza is yet another highly contagious disease that results in upper respiratory symptoms in affected dogs.
- Leptospirosis: Commonly called “lepto,” this is a bacteria type that attacks the nervous system, kidneys, and liver. It is spread through the urine of other infected animals and is mainly found in squirrels, deer, and rabbits. Any dog that ingest contaminated water through lakes, streams, or even puddles can become infected with the bacteria.
- Bordetella (kennel cough): This upper respiratory disease caused by the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica spreads quickly from dog to dog and triggers a slight fever along with its hallmark hacking cough. Because this is often seen in dogs that come into regular contact with strange dogs, this is a lifestyle vaccine recommended for dogs visiting dog parks, daycare, or grooming.
- Canine Influenza (CIV): Commonly referred to as “dog flu,” canine influenza is an exceedingly contagious viral infection affecting dogs. Canine influenza can be transmitted via droplets or aerosols containing respiratory secretions from barking and coughing. While most dogs infected with the virus present with mild respiratory symptoms, some can develop high fevers and life-threatening pneumonia. As with Bordetella, canine influenza should be considered on a lifestyle basis.
- Lyme: Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi that ticks spread. Lyme disease can provoke swollen and painful joints and fever. Affected dogs are often seen limping on alternating limbs. Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause irreversible kidney damage. Although Lyme can affect people and dogs, it cannot be transmitted from one to another and can only be transmitted through a tick’s bite, who is carrying the bacterium.
- Rabies: Just like with dogs, cats are required to be vaccinated for rabies to ensure their safety. Rabies is untreatable and always deadly. Rabies vaccines are highly effective and typically given to kittens at around 16 weeks of age.
- FVRCP (Feline viral rhinotracheitis, calici-virus, panleukopenia): For cats, the “distemper” vaccine is combined with rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia. Feline viral rhinotracheitis is a highly contagious cat-specific herpesvirus that causes chronic upper respiratory disease. Calicivirus is another contagious disease that causes upper respiratory symptoms in cats. Infected cats also tend to develop oral ulcers. Panleukopenia is the feline version of parvovirus. Just like with dogs, panleukopenia attacks the cat’s gastrointestinal and immune systems and has a high mortality rate.
- FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus): This virus is spread from cat to cat via saliva and provokes symptoms similar to human leukemia. FeLV is recommended only for outdoorsy cats or to interact with other cats.
Which vaccines your cat or dog needs depends on many things including, their individual medical history, current health status, and lifestyle. August is National Immunization Awareness Month, so talk to a veterinarian at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital to help determine what is suitable for your pet based on these factors.
HERE AT MOUNT CARMEL ANIMAL HOSPITAL, WE’LL TREAT YOUR PETS LIKE FAMILY!
Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!