The Importance of Pet Vaccines

Vaccinating your pet is the most crucial health care preventative there is.  With the development of vaccines, dogs and cats have been protected from various life-threatening illnesses. Parvovirus, hepatitis, distemper and rabies are just a few of the diseases out there that our pets can be exposed to. A few of the diseases your pet can be vaccinated for can be treated, but it is usually very costly and successful treatment is not guaranteed. Some of these diseases can also be passed from pet to person, so vaccinating your pet helps keep your family healthy, too.

Each pet is unique and requires a tailored vaccine schedule. Veterinarians can recommend a vaccine schedule based on your pet’s individual needs. Some of the factors considered when designing a vaccine protocol include, age, breed, health status, environment, lifestyle, and traveling habits. Your pet’s likeliness of exposure to disease can be determined by discussing these factors with your veterinarian.

Preventative health care begins with your puppy or kitten’s series of core vaccines.  Core vaccines are vaccines that every pet should have. They are potentially fatal, prevalent in North America and are easily transmitted to your pet. Core vaccines include:

Dogs – Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus (DAP) and Rabies

Cats – Feline Viral  Rhinotracheitis, Calici Virus, Panleukopenia (FVRCP), Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), and Rabies

Puppy and Kitten vaccinations should begin at 6-8 weeks of age and be given by a veterinarian every 3-4 weeks until the series is completed.

Other noncore vaccines may be recommended for your pet depending on their lifestyle. For example, if your dog is groomed or boarded often, most veterinarians recommend vaccinating your pooch for Bordetella (Kennel Cough) every 6 months. In addition, vaccinations for Lyme and Leptospirosis may be recommended depending on your pet’s exposure and the region in which you live.

Based on our environment, RiverWoods Pet Hospital recommends the following vaccines for Puppies & Kittens in Utah County beginning at 6-8 weeks of age and given at three week intervals:

Dogs:

1st Set: DHPPC (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza, Corona Virus)

2nd Set: DHPPC, Bordetella

3rd Set: DHPPC, Bordetella, Rabies (must be 16 weeks old for Rabies vaccine)

 

Cats:

1st Set: FVRCP

2nd Set: FVRCP, FeLV

3rd Set: FVRCP, FeLV, Rabies (must be 16 weeks old for Rabies vaccine)

For healthy pets, yearly examinations and vaccinations are recommended thereafter.

As with any medical procedure, vaccinations carry inherent risks. Generally, the benefits outweigh the risks. Allergic reactions to vaccinations are rare, and can commonly be avoided by pre-treating the pet with antihistamines and/or steroids.  More commonly, some pets can experience swelling and painfulness at the injection site.  In addition, there have been tumors that develop in relation to vaccinations (mostly in cats). However, these cases are very rare and your veterinarian can give you more information.

There are stores in our area that sell vaccines that you can administer to your pet yourself. We strongly caution pet owners against using these vaccines. They are usually not handled correctly and can be ineffective. As a veterinary practice, we are required to monitor each vaccine’s handling to ensure its efficacy. (It mostly comes down to refrigeration.) Unfortunately, we have had several cases of animals being vaccinated with store-bought vaccines or those that did not finish their puppy or kitten series that did contract one of the life-threatening illnesses they were vaccinated for. In addition, by law only a licensed veterinarian can vaccinate your pet for Rabies.

RiverWoods Pet Hospital is committed to helping your pet be happy and healthy. We recommend preventative medicine and strongly encourage our clients to vaccinate their pets.

 

— Janni Kimble, RiverWoods Pet Hospital

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