What Essential Vaccines Are Needed for My Dog and Cat?

It’s important to follow a complete cat or dog vaccination schedule to ensure that your pet stays healthy, and to make sure that they are not in danger of contracting viruses that may be harmful and even deadly. Several essential, or core vaccines are recommended for your pet, and one in particular, rabies, is required under the law in many states. 

dog vaccinations in chandler, az

What is a vaccine?

The function of a vaccine is to trigger an immune response to a certain virus that can help protect your pet from future infections and diseases. A vaccine triggers the body’s immune response to produce antibodies that can battle viruses. Keeping your dog and cat up-to-date on vaccines will ensure that your pets will enjoy a healthier and happier life.

Essential Vaccines for Dogs

For the first year, it’s very important to make sure that your best friend is safe from viruses and disease, and as your dog matures, it’s important to keep up with a regular vaccine schedule. 

Rabies

Rabies is a virus that attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms include excessive drooling, paralysis, anxiety, and ultimately death. It is also a zoonotic disease that can be transmitted to humans and other pets. Due to its deadly nature and capability to transfer to humans, rabies vaccines, or appropriate rabies titers (a measurement of rabies antibodies in the blood) are required in most cities and states in the U.S. If you have any questions about the rabies vaccine, please contact your veterinarian in Chandler.

 

Canine Distemper

The distemper virus attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems of dogs, and this virus is spread through airborne droplets through sneezing or coughing. Distemper can also be transmitted by sharing water bowls, and infected dogs can shed the virus for months. Distemper can cause discharge from the eyes and nose, fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, twitching, paralysis, and sometimes death. Young dogs that contract distemper require hospitalization and supportive care, and medications to help relieve secondary infections and seizures. Dogs can survive distemper, however, they will often exhibit neurological deficits throughout their lives.

 

Parvovirus

Parvovirus, or “Parvo,” is a highly contagious virus that affects all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies less than four months of age are most at risk. Parvo attacks the gastrointestinal system and creates a loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, and often severe, bloody diarrhea. The vomiting and diarrhea can be acute and cause severe dehydration in a matter of hours, so contacting your veterinarian immediately is crucial. Your veterinarian can conduct a parvo test to see if your puppy does have parvo, and can hospitalize your pet to keep her hydrated and prevent the possibility of secondary bacterial infections. Parvo is an extremely contagious virus and can live indoors for several weeks, and in the outdoor environment for many months, even years in areas shaded from direct sunlight.

 

Canine Adenovirus (Hepatitis)

Canine hepatitis is another very contagious virus that affects the liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and eyes. This disease primarily attacks the liver, and symptoms range from a low-grade fever, congestion and stuffy nose, vomiting, jaundice, stomach enlargement, and pain around the liver. Many dogs can overcome a mild bought of hepatitis, but more severe forms can damage the liver and even cause death.

 

Optional vaccines for dogs

Optional vaccines include canine parainfluenza, one of several viruses that can cause what is known as “kennel cough,”  Coronavirus, which targets the GI tract and can cause respiratory infections, Bordetella Bronchiseptica, the vaccine for the bacteria that causes “kennel cough,” Leptospirosis, a vaccine for a bacterium that can be spread from animal to human, and Lyme Disease, which is caused by another bacterium transmitted by a tick bite. Depending on the area in which you live, your veterinarian may or may not recommend one or more of these optional vaccines as essential.

 

Vaccination Schedule for Dogs

Depending on where you live, this vaccination schedule may differ. Some dogs may not need every vaccine listed above, and it’s always best to consult your veterinarian as to which vaccines are needed for your dog.

Below is listed the generally accepted vaccine schedule for dogs up to one year and after.

 

Dog Age

Essential Vaccinations

6-8 weeks

DAP (Distemper, Adenovirus,parvovirus)

10-12 weeks

DAP

16-18 weeks

DAP, 1-year Rabies

12-16 months 

DAP, 3-year Rabies

Every 1-2 years

DAP

Every 3 years

3-year Rabies

 

 

Essential Vaccines for Cats

As with dogs, it is also important to follow a vaccine schedule for your cat to keep her healthy and happy. Depending on where you live and your cat’s lifestyle, your veterinarian may also recommend other optional vaccines for your cat.

Rabies

As mentioned above, rabies is a zoonotic disease that can be transmitted to humans and other pets and is required in most cities and states in the US, even if your cat stays exclusively indoors.

 

Panleukopenia (FPLV)

Panleukopenia, also known as “feline distemper,” is a condition where there is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, and it is caused by a similar virus that causes parvovirus in dogs. This is a highly contagious virus, and most often affects kittens because their immune systems are not fully developed. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy, and some kittens may have yellow or green discharge from the eyes and nose. FPLV is transmitted through contact with an infected cat through secretions, especially through contact with infected feces. It can also be transmitted through shared water bowls, feed bowls, and even clothing.

 

Feline calicivirus

Feline calicivirus is a virus that causes upper respiratory issues and infections. This virus is caused by several different viruses and bacteria and can cause serious respiratory issues in cats. Cats who have calicivirus exhibit sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis (inflammation of the membranes around the eyelids), and discharge from the nose and eyes. Signs and symptoms can also include mouth ulcers, fever, drooling, squinting, anorexia, lethargy, and swollen lymph nodes. Calicivirus is very contagious, and is transmitted through secretions and saliva from the mouth and nose, and also can be spread through sneezing and droplets in the air.

 

Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR)

FVR is a common cause of upper respiratory disease in cats and is caused by feline herpesvirus type-1. FVR is species-specific to cats, and it can infect cats of any age, domestic and wild. The primary symptom of FVR is conjunctivitis, and it’s transmitted by direct contact with virus particles. The virus is spread by coming into contact with saliva or discharge from the eyes or nose of an infected cat, and a cat can also become infected when he/she comes into contact with contaminated water dishes, food dishes, or clothing.

The feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia vaccinations often come in a combination shot (FVRCP), which is sometimes called the “distemper shot.”

 

Optional vaccines for cats

Depending on where you live and your cat’s lifestyle, your veterinarian may suggest one or more optional vaccines. These include Feline Bordetella,  Feline leukemia, which is a serious viral infection spread through bodily fluids like saliva, feces, milk, and urine. The vaccine (FELV) is recommended for cats who spend any time outside. Unfortunately, there is no cure for feline leukemia, so prevention is key. Another optional vaccine is FIP or the Feline Infectious Peritonitis vaccine. FIP is a viral infection most common in catteries and feral colonies and is often fatal. The good news is that most house cats are not at risk for this disease. 

 

Vaccination schedule for cats

Below is listed the generally accepted vaccine schedule for cats up to one year and after.

 

Cat Age

Essential Vaccinations

6-8 weeks

FVRCP

10-12 weeks

FVRCP

16-18 weeks

FVRCP, 1-year Rabies

12-16 months 

FVRCP, 3-year Rabies

Every 1-2 years

FVRCP

Every 3 years

3-year Rabies

 

If your cat stays inside all of the time, you might think she’s automatically protected from the diseases listed above, but an ounce of prevention is worth it. If you have any questions about vaccines and your cat, consult your veterinarian in Chandler.

 

Sources:

  1. http://americanhumane.org/fact-sheet/vaccinating-your-pet/
  2. https://pets.webmd.com/cats/cat-vaccines#2
  3. http://www.akc.org