Do you know why your pet gets the vaccines they do? Vaccine plans are not a one-size-fits-all type of thing. They should be tailored to the individual pet taking into consideration age, activity, location, and medical history. Over-vaccination can be harmful to your pet, so the more you understand about vaccines, the better choices you can make.

Below is a detailed list of the most common dog and cat vaccines. Deciding what vaccines your pet should receive is a decision you and your veterinarian should discuss and make together.

Dogs:

DHPP or 4-in-1 (Distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza)-Distemper is caused by an airborne virusthat affects the lungs, intestines and brain. It often results in death. Canine hepatitis virus causes serious liver disease. Parvovirus causes severe diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite and sometimes death. It mostly affects puppies but can also affect unvaccinated adult dogs. Parainfluenza virus causes an infectious bronchitis resulting in a severe respiratory infection.

Frequency– every 3 years after initial set. Puppies usually get their first dose at 8 weeks, second dose at 12 week and third dose at 16 weeks of age, then 1 year later.

All puppies and most adult dogs should be kept current on this vaccine.

Leptospirosis– Either included in the DHPP making it a 5 in 1 (DHLPP) or given individually. Leptospirosis is an organism that attacks the kidneys and can cause kidney failure in both animals and people. Infection is caused by ingestion or exposure to water that has been contaminated by wild animals. Leptospirosis vaccines are thought to cause more post-vaccination reactions than other vaccines.

Frequency yearly

This vaccine should be given to dogs who live in an area or travel to places where Leptospirosis is present, especially if they spend significant time outdoors.

Rabies– Rabies is present in most of the United States and is spread by a bite from an infected animal. Having your pet current on rabies vaccine is required by law in many counties. If your pet has exposure to a wild animal, especially a bat or skunk, they may be placed on a quarantine. Rules vary by state and county but generally, if rabies vaccine is current the quarantine can be done at home and is relatively short. If the pet is not vaccinated for rabies, the quarantine is often required to be completed at a facility. This gets very expensive and sometimes people end up having to euthanize their pet.

Frequency– every 3 years. Puppies get their first rabies vaccine around 16 weeks of age and again 1 year later.

All puppies and most adult dogs should be kept current on rabies vaccines. Some medical or age-related issues may warrant discontinuation of rabies vaccine.

BordatellaA highly infectious disease that causes a severe cough. It generally resolves with supportive care. Because this disease is so contagious, most boarding, daycare and grooming facilities require dogs to be current on this vaccine. Bordatella vaccine is usually given as drops in the nose.

Frequency– Every 6-12 months

If your dog does not go to boarding or grooming facilities and is not around a lot of other dogs, then this vaccine may not be necessary.

Lyme– Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria and spread through tick bites. A tick has to be attached to the animal for 48 hours before it can transmit the disease. Lyme disease does not cause illness in most dogs. In others, it can cause swollen lymph nodes, fever, painful joints and muscle soreness and possible kidney disease.

Frequency– Yearly. Puppies get the first vaccine at 12 weeks and the second at 16 weeks then a year later.

This is a relatively new vaccine and its efficacy is debatable. Some dogs may benefit from it, others won’t. Using tick repellant products on your dog may be the best method of prevention. Good tick control will also help prevent other diseases spread by ticks.

Rattlesnake– Rattlesnake bites can be deadly and pets must have immediate medical attention after a bite, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated with this vaccine.

The vaccine has not been proven to be effective and it therefore not generally recommended.

 

Cats:

FVRCP(Feline viral rhinotracheitis, calici and panleukopenia)- Feline viral rhinotracheitis is caused by the feline herpes virus. This is NOT contagious to humans. The virus is spread by exposure to another cat with an active infection. The most common symptoms are sneezing, runny nose, inflamed, watery eyes and sometimes a loss of appetite. Calici virus causes similar symptoms, but can be more severe. Sometimes it causes ulcers in the mouth. Panleukopenia is a serious disease that affects blood cells. It can cause fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and even death.

Frequency– Every 3 years after initial set. Kittens get their first vaccine at 8 weeks, second at 12 and the third at 16 weeks of age, then again 1 year later.

These viruses are airborne and can be spread by humans that handle infected cats. For this reason, it is often recommended that even cats who are strictly indoors still receive this vaccine although they may not need boosters as often as outdoor cats.

Rabies– Rabies is present in most of the United States and is spread by a bite from an infected animal. Rabies vaccination becomes a legal issue if your cat has potential exposure to a wild animal or if they bite a human.  If this happens, they may be placed on a quarantine. Rules vary by state and county but generally, if a cat has an up-to-date rabies vaccine quarantine can be done at home and is relatively short. If your cat is not up-to-date with their rabies vaccination, the quarantine is often long and required to be completed at a facility. This gets very expensive and sometimes people end up having to euthanize their pet.

Frequency– Yearly. Kittens get their first rabies vaccine around 16 weeks of age then again 1 year later.

This vaccine is recommended for cats that go outdoors, have exposure to other cats or wild animals or has a tendency to be aggressive towards humans. All cats should be vaccinated at least once.

FeLV (Feline leukemia virus)- This is a virus spread from cat to cat by bites. The virus causes leukemia, but is pretty rare. The downside of this vaccine is that it has been shown to cause cancerous tumors at the site of vaccination. We see these tumors more often than we see the disease occur.

Frequency– Yearly. Kittens get their first FeLV vaccine around 12 weeks of age, the second at 16 weeks and again 1 year later.

If your cat goes outdoors and has exposure to feral cats or cats with unknown vaccine status, you may want to have him/her vaccinated for FeLV.

 

Your pet’s requirement for vaccines may change along with shifts in lifestyle and health status. This is why it is important to discuss options with your veterinarian at your pet’s yearly check-ups.