Vaccines 101

January 8, 2013

 

Ever wonder what’s in that mysterious “distemper” vaccine that your cat or dog gets (contrary to the popular joke in our exam rooms at North Heritage Animal Hospital, it does NOT affected your pets disposition!)?  What’s the deal with the Rabies vaccine and how often do your pets actually need it?

The world of vaccines for dogs and cats has become increasingly more complicated in the last decade. What vaccines are given and how often will vary between different clinics, as well as be dependent on the lifestyle and age of your pet, and the disease risks in your area.

 

Rabies

 

The type of Rabies vaccine given to dogs and cats can vary greatly depending on the clinic administering them.  Rabies vaccines come in different types and can last for different lengths of time.

 

Distemper

 

The “distemper” vaccine given to dogs and cats is actually a combination vaccine which protect against several diseases.  Though we call it the “distemper” vaccine  for both cats and dogs there are different vaccines for each species (sometimes seen as DHPP for dogs and FVRCP for cats). Below are the diseases each vaccine helps protect against and a link to a description of the disease.

 

The dog “distemper” vaccine protects against:

Distemper Virus

Adenovirus (Infectious Canine Hepatitis)

Parainfluenza Virus

Parvovirus-WE ROUTINELY SEE PARVOVIRUS IN OUR CLINIC IN UNVACCINATED PUPPIES

 

The cat “distemper” vaccine protects against:

Rhinotracheitis

Calicivirus

Panleukopenia

Chlamydia

Other

 

There are other vaccines which are commonly given to our dogs and cats that can be individualized based on their lifestyle and risk factors for exposure.

Examples of these include:

Leptosporosis vaccine for dogs

Bordetella (Kennel Cough) for dogs

Feline Leukemia vaccine for cats

 

If you find it confusing to understand what vaccines your pet is due for each year don’t feel bad.  Over the past several years the research on how often to give individual vaccines has been changing.

 

At North Heritage Animal Hospital we are now following the vaccine recommendations of The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), both well respected associations which provide leadership in the veterinary profession.

Below are links to the vaccine recommendations for dogs and cats from the AAHA and AAFP  as well as our simplified outline of the highlights of each.

 

Dogs-AAHA 2011 Vaccine Recommendations

 

Puppies and Dogs who have never had any vaccines will need a series of either 2 or 3 boosters of the distemper (DHPP) vaccine with the last booster given when the pet is at least 16 weeks of age.  They will need to have another dose within 1 year of the last booster.  As long as they have had that dose within 1 year they will then need the vaccine every 3 years.

Rabies is given to dogs over 12 weeks of age (typically given at the final booster visit when the pet is 16 weeks old).  It does not need to be boostered however the next dose MUST be given within 1 year.  Once a pet has had 2 rabies doses within 1 year of each other the vaccine can be given 3 years apart.

The other vaccines will vary in their frequency.

 

Cats-AAFP Vaccine Recommendations

 

Kittens and Cats who have never had any vaccines will need a series of either 2 or 3 boosters of the distemper vaccine(FVRCP) with the last booster given when the pet is given at least 16 weeks of age.  They will need to have another dose within 1 year of the last booster.  As long as then have had that dose within 1 year they will then need the vaccine every 3 years.

Rabies is given to cats over 12 weeks of age (typically given at the final booster visit when the pet is 16 weeks old).  It does not need to be boostered.  At North Heritage Animal Hospital we use a non- adjuvanted Rabies vaccine for cats to reduce the risk of vaccine associated fibrosarcomas.  This vaccine needs to be given yearly.

The other vaccines will vary in their frequency.

 

Finally it is important to remember that EVERY PET is legally required to be up to date with their rabies

vaccine.

 

We are always happy to answer any questions about our vaccine protocols and do our best to tailor them for each individual patient.

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