Vaccinations are a key factor in your pet’s health. Keeping your pet up to date on routine shots can prevent major, life-threatening illnesses and expenses.
Vaccines Essential for All Dogs
Most municipalities require your animal be vaccinated for rabies. Rabies vaccines are available in one year and three year doses, speak to your veterinarian about which is right for your pet. Even if your pet is primarily indoors, accidents happen. It can be a bite from another animal, (feral cats, squirrels, raccoons, rabbits, coyotes, and foxes all inhabit urban areas and have been known to bite pets); or a bite to another person or animal. On the off chance that your pet bites a person or pet and the bite, regardless of severity, is reported, proof of rabies vaccine will save your pet from quarantine and full rabies treatment which is lengthy and expensive.
Also essential for your dog is the distemper/hepatitis/parainfluenza/parvovirus or DHPP vaccine. All these illnesses are very costly to treat. Distemper is often deadly and dogs who survive can develop long-term neurological issues. It is carried by domestic dogs and wildlife, so your dog should be vaccinated as early as possible. Parvovirus can also be deadly and is transmitted through infected soil and fecal matter. Treatment requires weeks of hospitalization.
Puppies should have three rounds of DHPP vaccine spaced one month apart. After that, dogs should be vaccinated yearly. Most boarding facilities, day cares, and groomers require that your dog has had at least these two vaccines.
Other Vaccines for Dogs
Leptospirosis is a bacteria that is most common in areas with large amounts of standing or slow moving water; it is also transmittable to humans. Discuss with your veterinarian if a lepto vaccine is appropriate for your dog based on your activities.
Bordetella, better known as kennel cough is a highly contagious upper respiratory infection. If you dog goes to day care, grooming, or dog parks frequently, a bordetella vaccine may be in your best interest to prevent this upper respiratory condition. Many boarding facilities and groomers require that your dog be vaccinated.
Lyme Disease is significantly more prevalent in certain areas of the world than others and is spread by ticks. If you regularly take your dog on hikes, travel, or have found ticks in your yard, discuss prevention with your vet.
Canine Influenza is common in shelters and boarding facilities. Talk to your veterinarian to determine if your dog should be vaccinated.
The corona virus infects the intestinal tract and is most common in warm, humid climates.
Essential Vaccines for Cats
All kittens should receive two courses of the Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis/Calicivirus/Panleukopenia or FVRCP vaccine. After kittenhood, cats should be vaccinated yearly. This vaccine is sometimes called the feline distemper shot.
Feline viral rhinotracheitis and calicivirus are the most infectious upper respiratory infections in cats untreated, both can turn in pneumonia and cause severe complications. When vaccinated, cats may still show symptoms, but symptoms are considerably more mild and easily treated.
Panleukopenia or feline distemper is serious, can cause anemia, and can be fatal. It is highly contagious and therefore the vaccine protocol should be annual.
Like all mammals, cats can get rabies. Cats that are allowed outdoors should be vaccinated regularly and should they bit another animal or human, they require quarantine and treatment if vaccines are not up to date. Many jurisdictions require cats to be vaccinated.
Other Vaccines for Cats
Chlamydia is not uncommon in cats. If you do not keep your cat indoors, it is best to speak with your veterinarian about the vaccine.
Feline Leukemia or Felv, is a recommended vaccine for outdoor cats as is the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or FIV vaccine. Both conditions are serious, contagious, and require a great deal of veterinary care. The good news is that indoor cats have a very low risk for developing either disease.
Bordetella can be contracted by cats as well as dogs. Owners of cats who are frequently boarded, who come into contact with foster animals, or who travel should speak with their veterinarian about a bordetella vaccine for their cats.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis or FIP is typically fatal in cats. While a vaccine is available, there is only one licensed manufacturer and the efficacy of the vaccine has not been shown to be particularly high. This vaccine is one that is most applicable to owners of catteries rather than most house cat owners.
The Bottom Line
Just like human vaccines, pet vaccines are life and cost savers. Serious reactions and complications are not common. If you have concerns, speak to your vet, however, at the very least rabies vaccinations are required by law for most cats and dogs, and the DHPP and FVRCP vaccine should be given to your pet regularly based on a schedule you and your veterinarian determine.