Vaccinating Your Pet

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To protect your pet from contagious diseases, keep his essential vaccinations up-to-date. This is important even if your pet is kept mostly indoors. Many contagious diseases are airborne and your pet could easily be exposed through an open window. There is also always a risk that your pet could accidentally slip out the door. Boarding kennels, dog parks and grooming salons are all areas where your pet is likely to be exposed to contagious diseases so be sure to consult with your veterinarian before taking your pet to any of these places
It is also important to keep in mind that vaccinations take a few days to a few weeks to become effective.

Essential Vaccinations for Your Dog

  • Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus (DHPP). Commonly called the “distemper shot,” this combination vaccine actually protects against the four diseases in its full name.
  • Rabies. Rabies virus is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection. Rabies vaccinations for dogs are required by law in most states.

Other Vaccines for Dogs

Your veterinarian may also recommend other vaccines for your dog depending on where you live and your dog’s lifestyle:

  • Leptospirosis. Often included as part of the distemper combination vaccine (making it a DHLPP), this bacterial infection is most prevalent in moist climates where there are areas of standing or slow-moving water. This disease can also be spread from animals to humans.
  • Bordetella (commonly called “kennel cough”).  The bordetella virus causes an extremely contagious upper respiratory infection. Your veterinarian may recommend this vaccine before your dog goes to a dog park, groomer, boarding kennel, doggie daycare or dog show.
  • Lyme Disease. A bacterial infection carried by ticks, this disease is extremely prevalent in certain parts of the country -- in particular, the east and west coasts and the areas around the Great Lakes.
  • Canine Influenza. This viral upper respiratory disease originated at a Florida racetrack in 2004 and has quickly spread across the country. Outbreaks are prevalent in animal shelters and boarding kennels.
  • Corona Virus. This virus infects the intestinal tract and is more prevalent in the southern United States.

Essential Vaccines for Your Cat

  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP). Commonly called the “distemper” shot , this combination vaccine protects against three diseases: feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia (sometimes called “feline distemper”).
  • Rabies. Rabies virus is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection. Rabies vaccinations for cats are required by law in most states. 

Other Vaccines for Cats

Your veterinarian may also recommend other vaccines for your cat depending on where you live and your cat’s lifestyle:

  • Chlamydia. Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis, and the vaccination for it is often included in the distemper combination vaccine (making it an FVRCP-C).
  • Feline Leukemia (Felv). Felv is a viral infection that is only transmitted through close contact, and this vaccine is generally only recommended for cats that go outdoors.
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). FIV is a viral infection that is only transmitted through close contact, and this vaccine is generally only recommended for cats that go outdoors.
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). A viral infection most common in catteries and feral colonies, FIP is almost always fatal. Most house cats do not have a significant risk of contracting this disease.
  • Bordetella. This bacteria causes highly contagious upper respiratory infections. Your veterinarian may recommend this vaccine before your cat goes to a boarding kennel or groomer.

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