Brushing Up On Pet Vaccines
Vaccinations have been under a cultural microscope the last few years, and, for some pet owners, the doubts cast by anti-vaccine advocates have been powerful and far-reaching. However, this simple truth prevails: veterinary vaccinations continue to protect pets, and people, from serious infectious diseases.
Join us to learn more about your pet’s vaccine requirements, what the vaccines protect against, and when immunization boosters are needed down the road.
Your Pet’s Immune System
The specialized cells and molecules that make up your pet’s immune system are responsible for protecting him or her from a range of viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Pet vaccines mimic a disease-causing organism and the immune system launches an attack, making subsequent exposure to the actual illness or disease less severe.
Feline Core Vaccines
At your cat’s regular wellness visit, we will discuss his or her lifestyle, age, and general health to determine which vaccines are necessary. The “core vaccines” are recommended for every feline and include:
- Panleukopenia – Also known as feline distemper, panleukopenia is a highly contagious, life-threatening gastrointestinal disease that results in vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, lethargy, and fever.
- Feline Herpesvirus-1 – It is not uncommon for unvaccinated cats to succumb to this grave respiratory illness, whereas, vaccinated cats may experience mild symptoms if the disease causes any sickness at all.
- Feline Calicivirus – Also a respiratory illness, cats that spread this virus are also known to have painful oral ulcers.
- Rabies – Texas law mandates all pets receive the rabies vaccine. As a zoonotic disease, rabies is transmitted between most animal species and humans through direct body fluid contact. It is an incurable disease of the nervous system that is typically fatal.
Panleukopenia, Feline Herpesvirus-1, and Feline Calicivirus are commonly combined into a single injection and offered to kittens as early as 6-8 weeks old. Until 16 weeks old, kittens receive additional shots every 3-4 weeks. The schedule for adult cats involves two doses of the combination vaccine given 3-4 weeks apart, and thereafter every 1-3 years.
Your cat should receive an initial rabies vaccine at three months and then again the following year. After that, the rabies vaccine can be given every three years.
Similarly, we will discuss your dog’s risk factors and lifestyle at his or her annual or twice yearly exam. While there are many “non-core” vaccines that may be recommended, the following reflects the “core vaccines” that every pet dog should receive:
- Canine Distemper – Fatal in up to 90% of cases, this pet vaccine is remarkably effective in dogs prior to exposure. Responsible for a variety of awful symptoms, such as blindness, muscle twitching, and green eye discharge, canine distemper is extremely contagious, weakens the immune system, and leaves dogs open to other illnesses.
- Canine Adenovirus-2 – This disease is one of many other organisms that lead to kennel cough, and is spread among dogs in close quarters, like kennels, shelters, or dog shows. This vaccine also protects against the dangerous Canine Adenovirus-1, or Canine Hepatitis.
- Parvovirus – Typically requiring hospitalization, Parvo affects the digestive system of unvaccinated adult dogs and puppies. Vomiting, bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and fever top the list of life-threatening symptoms.
- Rabies – Every state law if different, but in Texas you’ll need to vaccinate your dog from this disease.
Canine Distemper, Canine Adenovirus-2, and Parvovirus can be combined in a single shot when your puppy is 6-8 weeks old. Until he or she reaches the fourth month, boosters should be given every 3-4 weeks. Every 1-3 years thereafter, your dog should receive the combination vaccine.
Canine Rabies vaccine is initially offered 3-4 months old and then boostered one year later. Every 1-3 years, your dog’s rabies protection should be boostered.
Pet Vaccines Save Lives
While pet vaccines are extremely important, managing your pet’s exposure to possible infection or dangerous environments is also part of the equation. Please let us know if you have any questions about pet vaccines, or concerns about your pet’s health.
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Schertz Animal Hospital
Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!