At Douglasville, our veterinarians suggest that pets get the right vaccinations to ensure their good health throughout their lifetime. This article will explore the importance of regular pet vaccinations when they should be given, the risks of not vaccinating your pet, and more.
The Importance of Vaccinating Your Pet
Just like humans get vaccinated to prevent illnesses, our furry companions can also be protected with pet shots.
These vaccines guard against many serious conditions that could threaten your pet's overall health or longevity.
As a caring assistant, I understand the financial struggles that some pet owners face. Although getting your furry companion vaccinated may appear to be an unnecessary cost, it's far less expensive than treating the diseases they safeguard against.
How Pet Vaccines Work
When your pet gets vaccinated, their body is able to produce antibodies that can defend against serious and highly contagious diseases. These antibodies help the immune system recognize and fight off disease-causing organisms in the future.
Although no vaccine can guarantee complete protection, they can still help your pet recover more quickly if they do become infected.
Not All Pets Need Vaccines
It's important to consult with your vet to determine which vaccines are necessary for your pet based on their lifestyle and other factors. Not all vaccines are required for all animals. Your pet's age, lifestyle, and geographic location are major factors that will help determine which vaccines will provide the most benefits.
It's important to note that rabies vaccines are required by law for pets over 6 months of age in most locations across the United States and Canada. Pet owners will receive a certificate once their cat or dog has been vaccinated, and it's essential to keep the vaccination up to date.
Why should I vaccinate my pet?
As a pet owner, you may be curious about the risks of leaving your pet unvaccinated. It's important to keep your furry friend healthy and free from deadly diseases by proactively getting them vaccinated and keeping them up to date on their booster shots.
Some vaccines, like rabies vaccines for cats and dogs, are mandatory across the United States. In some places, pet owners need vaccination records to obtain a pet license.
If you plan on staying at pet-friendly hotels, taking your pet to dog parks, getting them groomed, or traveling with them, vaccinations may be required to protect your pet from contagious diseases that other animals may carry. This is also true for pet care services, such as doggy daycares and pet sitting.
It's important to be aware that even if your dog is always leashed when outside, they are still at risk of getting sick. This is because viruses and bacteria can survive on surfaces for extended periods of time, which means your dog could potentially contract a serious illness without even coming into direct contact with another dog.
Additionally, there are several conditions that are airborne and can be easily transmitted to your dog if they come into contact with an infected dog while out on a walk. It's important to be mindful of these risks and take necessary precautions to keep your dog healthy and safe.
Although outdoor cats are more prone to serious illnesses, it's important not to overlook the need for indoor cats to be vaccinated. Even though indoor cats are less likely to escape, it only takes a split second for them to bolt out of an open door or window.
Certain viruses can linger on surfaces and the ground for an extended period, which means that if your cat escapes and is brought back inside immediately, there's still a chance of exposure.
Additionally, wildlife can find their way into your home and pose a health risk to your feline friend. Therefore, it's crucial to ensure your indoor cat is up-to-date on their vaccinations for their overall health and wellbeing.
Core Vaccines for Pets
Core vaccines are recommended for most dogs and cats living in the United States. They are designed to help protect your pet by preventing diseases that are commonly present in your area. These diseases spread easily between animals (and, in some cases, from animals to people) and have a high fatality rate.
These are the essential vaccines that dogs should receive.
- Canine Parvovirus
Canine parvovirus is an extremely contagious viral disease that can be life-threatening. Parvovirus can be transmitted by any person, animal, or object that comes in contact with an infected dog's feces. Dogs that are not vaccinated are at risk of contracting the virus. Vaccinating your puppy or dog against parvovirus could save their life.
Canine distemper is a virus that affects a dog's respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, and central nervous system, as well as the conjunctival membranes of the eyes. Distemper is spread through contact with the fresh urine of an infected animal. This virus can travel to the brain, causing seizures, shaking, and trembling. Protect your dog against distemper by having them vaccinated.
- Canine Hepatitis
Dogs suffering from canine hepatitis experience swelling and cell damage in the liver, which may result in hemorrhage and death. This virus is spread through contact with the feces and urine of infected dogs. Simply by having your dog vaccinated, you can protect your dog against canine hepatitis.
Rabies is typically transmitted through a bite from the infected animal and is one of the few diseases that can be transmitted to people from their pets. The rabies virus causes acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and will gradually infect the entire nervous system of the animal or person, causing death.
In many states, including New York, rabies shots are mandatory for dogs, cats, and ferrets, without exception.
Here are core vaccines for cats.
- Panleukopenia (Feline Distemper or Feline Parvo)
Panleukopenia is an extremely contagious viral disease that is closely related to the canine parvovirus. Caused by the feline parvovirus, this disease is life-threatening to cats. This virus attacks the rapidly dividing blood cells in the body, including the cells in the intestinal tract, bone marrow, skin, or developing fetus. Panleukopenia is spread through the urine, stool, and nasal secretions of infected cats, or from the fleas of an infected cat.
- Feline Calicivirus
Feline calicivirus is a common respiratory disease in cats and kittens. This illness attacks the cat's respiratory tract, including the nasal passages and lungs, as well as the mouth, intestines, and the cat's musculoskeletal system. This illness is highly contagious in unvaccinated cats, and is often found in multi-cat homes, or shelters. This respiratory illness can be very difficult to get rid of once it has been contracted, and vaccinating your cat against feline calicivirus is strongly recommended.
- Feline Herpesvirus Type I (Rhinotracheitis)
Feline Herpesvirus (also known as feline viral rhinotracheitis -FVR) is a major cause of upper respiratory disease in cats, as well as inflammation of the tissues surrounding the cat's eyes. Once a cat has been infected with FVR it becomes a carrier of the virus. While most carriers will remain latent for long periods of time, stress and illness may cause the virus to become reactivated and infectious.
Rabies is typically transmitted through a bite from the infected animal and is one of the few diseases that can be transmitted to people from their pets. The rabies virus causes acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and will gradually infect the entire nervous system of the animal or person, causing death. In many states, including New York, rabies shots are mandatory for dogs, cats, and ferrets, without exception.
If your furry friend has a particular lifestyle, like spending time in doggie daycares or outdoors, they may be exposed to certain diseases. Lifestyle vaccines for cats and dogs can protect them from these diseases. Here are some lifestyle vaccines you may want to consider for your pet.
Lifestyle Vaccines for Dogs:
- Bordetella (Kennel Cough)
Bordetella bronchoseptica is the bacteria which can lead to the respiratory disease known as "kennel cough." This respiratory illness earned the name kennel cough because it is easily transmitted when dogs share indoor space, such as kennels. That said, dogs that attend dog parks or doggie daycares may also be at risk of contracting this disease. As with the human flu vaccine, the bordetella vaccination will not prevent your dog from getting sick, but it will help to decrease the severity and length of symptoms. Speak to your vet about the Bordatella vaccine if your dog spends time with other dogs.
Leptospirosis is a bacteria that is spread in water contaminated with urine from infected wildlife. While most cases of leptospirosis are mild and easily treated with antibiotics, some dogs get very sick and may even suffer kidney failure. Leptospirosis can also be transmitted from animals to people in some cases. If your dog is fond of drinking from puddles, ponds, or rivers in your neighborhood, speak to your vet about vaccinating your canine companion against leptospirosis.
- Canine Influenza (Dog Flu)
Symptoms of the dog flu often begin as kennel cough, then become increasingly more severe, and in some cases, require hospitalization. There are two strains of dog flu that are widely spread throughout the country. Speak to your vet to find out if this vaccination is right for your pooch. If your dog spends time with other dogs in daycares, kennels, or dog parks, you may wish to vaccinate them against dog flu. Short-faced dogs with an increased risk of respiratory illness should also be vaccinated against this condition.
- Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi)
In some regions of the US, the Lyme vaccine is considered a core vaccine because of the high prevalence of the disease in that area. If you live in an area where the black-legged tick (deer tick) is present in large numbers, our vets may suggest tick preventive medications be given to your dog year-round, and the Lyme disease vaccination be given to pets who spend time in wooded areas, parks, or farmlands. Speak to your vet to learn whether the Lyme disease vaccine is right for your dog.
Lifestyle Vaccines for Cats:
- Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
Feline leukemia is spread by saliva and can be transmitted from cat to cat through mutual grooming, bite wounds, mother's milk to kittens or through shared litter box use.
Feline leukemia is a viral disease that poses a major threat to cats and kittens. Even though it can remain undetected for long periods, it weakens the immune system of the cat, making it more vulnerable to other diseases. This disease is also the most common cause of cancer in felines.
Depending on the vaccine, adult dogs and cats should receive booster shots either annually or every three years. Your vet will notify you about when your pet should be brought back for booster shots. Booster shots are essential for maintaining your pet's immunity.
Please keep in mind that your puppy or kitten will not have complete protection from their vaccines until they have received all of their necessary shots, which usually occurs when they are between 12 to 16 weeks old. Once your veterinarian has administered all of the initial vaccinations, your young pet will be safeguarded against the specific diseases or conditions that the vaccines cover.
We suggest limiting your puppy or kitten to safe areas, such as your own backyard, if you intend to let them outside before they receive complete vaccination against the diseases mentioned earlier.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.