Vaccinations are critical to the well being of your pet, protecting them from potentially deadly viral and bacterial diseases. This includes disease like distemper, parvovirus, Leptospirosis, and rabies in dogs; and panleukopenia, feline leukemia virus, and rabies in cats.
Vaccination protects pets from disease by exposing their body's immune system to inactive or parts of a type of bacteria or virus. Our doctors will help you decide which vaccines are appropriate for your pet's risk factors. Proper administration and giving a vaccine at the correct age and time interval is critical for proper protection. Vaccination is particularly critical in young animals that have naive immune systems. Vaccination typically starts at 6-8 weeks of age and the puppy and kitten series is completed around 16 weeks of age.
Vaccinations are generally accompanied by doctor consultation and examination to ensure your pet is healthy enough for the vaccines. We will keep you up to date when your pets will be due for booster vaccinations during their adult years.
- Rabies: This vaccination is required by law for all cats, dogs, and ferrets in Massachusetts--therefore, it is extremely important that your pet is always current on this vaccine. Rabies is a deadly disease that is found in the brain tissue of infected mammals, including humans. The best way to prevent transmission is through timely vaccination. They must be at least 12 weeks old to receive this vaccine, and the first vaccine is good for 1 year. Subsequent vaccines with cats and dogs can be effective for 3 years if the second one is given within 9-12 months of the first vaccine. However, rabies vaccination must be done annually in ferrets.
- DHLP/PV/CV: This is a 5 (or 6) way combination vaccine for dogs. It consists of distemper, hepatitis, Leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, and coronavirus. Each of these diseases is very contagious, and can be deadly to a young puppy. Every puppy should have this vaccine beginning at 6-8 weeks of age, and then will receive one of these vaccines every 3-4 weeks until they reach 16 weeks of age. The Leptospirosis portion of this vaccine is typically withheld until your puppy is 10 weeks of age, and is at least 3 pounds. After the initial series, your dog will receive this vaccine again in 1 year. After that time, your veterinarian will discuss your dog's risk factors and determine vaccination frequency based upon its individual risks.
- FVRCP: This is a 3 way combination vaccine for cats. It consists of rhinotracheitis, panleukopenia, and calicivirus. These diseases are very contagious, and can be deadly to young kittens. Like the "distemper" vaccination for dogs, every kitten should receive this vaccine beginning at 6-8 weeks of age, and then will receive one of these vaccines every 3-4 weeks until they reach 16 weeks of age. After the initial series, your cat will then receive this vaccine again in 1 year. After that time, your veterinarian will discuss your cat's risk factors and determine vaccination frequency based upon its individual risks.
- Leptospirosis: This is a vaccination for dogs, which is recommended for any dog who may come in contact with the urine of infected wildlife. This bacterial infection can cause acute kidney or liver failure, and can be difficult to diagnose and treat. This vaccine is routinely started after 10 weeks of age, and is then boostered 3-4 weeks later. Annual vaccinations are then recommended. We highly recommend this vaccination, as humans can get it from contaminated urine from our pets.
- Lyme: This is another vaccination for dogs, which we currently recommend for all puppies due to the large number of infected dogs in our area. This disease is transmitted by deer ticks, and can cause joint pain, lameness, and, in rare cases, kidney failure. The initial vaccine is started after 10 weeks of age, and is then boostered 3-4 weeks later. After the initial series, annual re-vaccination is recommended.
- Bordetella: This is a vaccination for dogs, which is recommended for pets that go to boarding, grooming, training, daycare, or dog parks. This vaccination protects your pet against a respiratory disease similar to the cold virus in humans. This disease is very contagious, since is is airborne once an infected dog sneezes or coughs. This vaccination can be given through several routes--intranasal or injectable. As recommendations for re-vaccination vary depending upon the manner in which the vaccine is given, your veterinarian can recommend the appropriate re-vaccination schedule, whether it is to be given every 6 or 12 months. It is important to note that some boarding or grooming facilities may require vaccination every 6 months, regardless of how the vaccine is given.
- Canine Influenza (CIV): This is a vaccination for dogs, which is a viral infection spread from dog to dog through airborne exposure. Since most dogs are exposed to potential situations of exposure (shelters, boarding, grooming, training, dog parks, pet stores, veterinary facilities), and since dogs are contagious for 7-10 days and can spread the virus prior to the onset of clinical signs, vaccination is recommended for all patients. Dogs over 6 weeks of age can receive this vaccination, and two vaccinations should be given 2-4 weeks apart for lasting immunity. The vaccine is then boostered annually.
- Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV): This is a vaccination for cats, which is recommended for all kittens, regardless of lifestyle, as they are at highest risk. It is an immunosuppressant disease, which can cause infections and cancers. The initial vaccine is started after 10 weeks of age (after a negative test result), and is then boostered 3-4 weeks later. Depending upon your cat's risk factors, this may then be continued annually thereafter.
(Adapted from a client information handout from VCA North Main Street in Brockton, MA.)