Are Vaccinations necessary for your pet?

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Vaccines are an essential part of your pet’s health routine and can be preventative measures for many deadly diseases. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that you take your pet in for a yearly wellness exam, vaccinations, and parasite prevention.

TOPICAL ANTIPARASITIC AGENTS – These ointments are best used in dogs that have been exposed to parasites, and for dogs that have not been exposed. They are used to kill existing parasites that may be found in your pets’ intestines. Some of these medications include: Advantage, Interceptor, Revolution, Comfortis, and Sentinel.

ORAL ANTIPARASITIC AGENTS – Oral medications are usually given after the pet cannot pass or has passed a stool sample with any parasites remaining in its digestive tract. Some of these oral medications include: Heartgard Plus and Advantix.

PERIODICALLY IMMUNIZED ANIMALS – Dogs that are considered to be healthy, well-nourished, and free of any known or suspected illness are not required to be immunized. However, they should be periodically revaccinated to build the immune system up, especially if they have been exposed to a new targeted disease.

VACCINES – It is recommended that you vaccinate your pet according to the guidelines for the diseases it is being vaccinated for. Vaccinations are often combined into one ‘vaccination session’ and will contain a combination of multiple vaccines. Some of these vaccines include: Lyme, Leptospirosis, Rabies, Bordatella, Parvovirus, Distemper , Hepatitis and Parainfluenza.

Canine & Feline Bloodborne Diseases – These diseases can be contracted by petting or hugging an infected animal (such as a horse or rabbit), through contaminated bedding or bite wounds while removing ticks from your dog or cat. These diseases include: Rabies, Leptospirosis, Cytauxzoonosis, and Brucellosis.

Canine & Feline Parasites – These parasites are common in dogs and cats and can spread throughout the cat population. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss (apparent or actual), weakness, depression, hives or other skin irritations.

Vaccinations are extremely important for keeping your pets healthy. A vet will be able to give you a better idea of which vaccines your pet is getting based on their physical exam and health history. Make sure to visit your vet at least once every year to receive vaccinations for the recommended diseases they recommend your pet receive yearly.

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FELINE RABIES: A safe and effective vaccine that protects cats from the fatal virus. After an exposure to rabies, a cat must be tested for the disease before receiving this treatment. If your cat is bitten by a wild animal or a stray dog, they may have contracted Rabies, so it is important to mention it to your vet. Most cats will have difficulty showing symptoms of rabies because they do not become aggressive when infected and are very good at hiding their symptoms; any one of the following signs may indicate rabies.

Cats may be lethargic, have difficulty eating and drinking, have sensitivity to touch and sound, have trouble swallowing, or paralysis. Some other possible signs of rabies include: noisy breathing, behavior changes (badly “acting out” or hiding), drooling from the mouth, eye discharge (often bloody), seizures or convulsions.

Canine Kennel Cough: Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease that can be passed from dog to dog, and even to humans. It is important to vaccinate your pet for kennel cough if they are at a boarding facility or if they are in contact with infected dogs. The vaccination is given in two parts, called “primary” and “booster.” It may take about one week after receiving the primary vaccination for your pet’s body to build up antibodies against the disease. Then, about one month after receiving the primary vaccination, your pet will need a booster shot so that they maintain protection from kennel cough for at least 12 months. This vaccination is also recommended if your pet is frequently exposed to other animals (such as at a boarding facility).

DA2PPv (Distemper) & FVRCPv (Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia): These are two diseases common in dogs and cats. The combined vaccine will protect against both of these diseases. Canine Distemper is a serious viral disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems in dogs. It spreads through body secretions and excretions from the infected dog’s nose and mouth during sneezing, coughing, or even breathing. This disease may also cause fever, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, cough, loss of appetite, and depression. The earlier the vaccine is given to your pet against this disease the more likely he or she will be protected for life.

Canine Leptospirosis: This is a bacterial disease that affects the kidney and liver in dogs. It can spread to humans through direct contact with infected dog urine or through contact with contaminated water. Early treatment may prevent kidney failure and death. The vaccine protects against Leptospirosis in dogs but does not protect against Lepto in cats due to differences in their immune systems.

Canine Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza (DHPPv): This is a combination vaccine that protects dogs from three different diseases: Canine Distemper, Hepatitis, and Parainfluenza. All of these are viral diseases that affect the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems in dogs. They are spread through direct contact with the infected animal’s saliva, nasal secretions, urine, or feces. The vaccine may be given as a single shot or in three doses spread over the course of a year.

Canine Parvovirus: This is a highly contagious disease that affects dogs. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy, fever, and could be fatal if not treated early. The vaccine is given in two parts called “primary” and “booster.” The first part of the vaccination protects your pet from this disease for as long as 10 months after receiving the first dose; the booster protects your pet for 1 year. The risk of this disease increases during spring and fall when the weather is mild and dogs are out in the yard more.

Canine Influenza: This is a virus that attacks the respiratory tract causing symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, runny nose, fever, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. The vaccine protects against Canine Influenza for 6 months following administration of both doses. It will provide protection from this disease in all dogs but there have been some cases with dogs not developing immunity after receiving only one dose.

Canine Lyme Disease: This is a bacterial infection that affects the dog’s central nervous system. It is spread through the bite of infected ticks and is diagnosed through a blood test. Infected dogs may suffer from the early symptoms of Lyme disease but may not experience any clinical signs. It can be difficult to diagnose and it is usually recommended that dogs be tested annually for this disease. The vaccine protects against Lyme disease for 5 years after receiving both doses of the vaccine.

I recommend that you schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss the best options for your pet’s protection against these common diseases in dogs. Your veterinarian can best determine the risks of disease in your area and tailor a vaccination schedule based on those factors. For some dogs, it may be recommended that they receive booster shots every year or every three years depending on their risk level from exposure to disease.

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