Vaccinations and  Wellness

Most pet owners are familiar with vaccinations in the sense that they are something their pet needs to see the veterinarian for each year.  However, many owners may not know exactly what their pet is being vaccinated for and why. 

Puppies and kittens require a series of 4 sets of vaccinations, spaced 3 weeks apart, starting at 6 to 8 weeks of age.  This allows us to help build up their immunity to diseases gradually while the immunity they gained from the antibodies in the mother’s milk is decreasing.  Puppies are vaccinated against the Distemper virus, Parvo virus, Adenovirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Canine Influenza and Parainfluenza.  Kittens are vaccinated against Leukemia and Feline Distemper, which includes Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia.  Once finishing their series of vaccinations, puppies and kittens will need their annual vaccinations one year later.  They will be considered an adult and follow the adult schedule.

Below is a brief description of each of the diseases your pet is vaccinated against:

Distemper – Dogs are affected with this virus by coming in contact with another infected dog.  It attacks the mucous membranes lining the respiratory tract.  Dogs infected with this virus start showing signs of a respiratory infection, which then progresses to pneumonia.  Over time the virus begins to affect the gastrointestinal tract, causing vomiting and diarrhea, and may eventually reach the brain and cause seizures.

Parvo – The parvo virus is passed in the feces of other infected dogs and is able to exist for long periods of time in the environment.  The virus first attacks the cells of the gastrointestinal tract, causing severe vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration, which is potentially fatal.  It can also attack the cells of the bone marrow.  Puppies are extremely susceptible to this disease because they have not been exposed to it in order to build up immunity.

Adenovirus – This virus exists in the environment and infects multiple areas of a dog’s body.  Some strains can cause respiratory disease, while other strains may lead to hepatitis, or liver disease.

Bordetella / Parainfluenza – These highly contagious organisms cause respiratory disease, characterized by a hacking cough.  It is also known as “kennel cough.”  Dogs and cats are infected by being around other infected animals, especially in boarding or grooming situations. 

Leptospirosis – Leptospirosis is a bacteria that thrives in wet, warm areas and urine. It is typically ingested and spreads throughout the body.  It usually leads to kidney and liver failure in dogs.

K9 Influenza (CIV) - K9 Influenza is a highly contagious disease caused by a "flu" virus. It causes respiratory infection and only affects dogs. K9 Influenza may cause death.

Rabies – The rabies virus is the most well-known disease we vaccinate against.  Dogs and cats are required by law to receive this vaccine.  Young animals receive their first rabies vaccine at 3 months of age.  Rabies is a fatal neurologic disease that is contagious to humans and is spread through bite wounds.

Rhinotracheitis / Calicivirus / Panleukopenia – These viruses cause upper respiratory infections in cats and are typically included together in a single vaccine, which is sometimes referred to as the “feline distemper” vaccine.

Feline Leukemia Virus – This virus is spread by close contact or from the mother to her kittens.  The virus attacks the bone marrow and causes immunosuppression.  It can also lead to lymphoma, or cancer of lymphatic system.

Vaccinations are a very important part of preventing diseases in our pets.  Many diseases are rarely seen anymore due to the vaccination protocols used at most veterinary clinics.  By following vaccination recommendations, we can help our pets to live long, healthy lives!  Call us today to schedule your pet’s wellness and vaccination appointment.