Everything You Need to Know About Vaccinating Your Dog
Dog vaccinations play a critical role in protecting your dog from many dangerous and even fatal diseases. While state law requires all dogs are vaccinated for rabies, there are a number of other vaccinations that can protect your dog from serious diseases that are easily preventable.
At Premier Veterinary Care we take our time to educate our clients about the benefits of dog vaccinations. This includes what vaccines are necessary and how they should be scheduled. Over the years we have been asked every question possible about dog vaccinations and we have compiled some of the most frequently asked ones for you here. This is only meant to be a general introduction to dog vaccinations. At your dog’s next veterinary appointment, we will be happy to help you understand the vaccination recommendations for your dog.
Table of Contents
What Are Dog Vaccines And Why Are They Important?
Vaccines help prepare a dog’s immune system to defend itself from any invasion of disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which mimic disease-causing organisms in a dog’s immune system, but don’t actually cause disease. The purpose of puppy vaccines and dog vaccines is to mildly stimulate the immune system by having it recognize the antigens present. This way, if a dog becomes exposed to the real disease, it’s immune system will recognize it, and therefore be prepared to fight it off, or at the least reduce its effects.
What Are The Core Dog Vaccinations?
Core puppy vaccinations and dog vaccinations are considered vital to all canines based on a universal risk of exposure, the severity of disease, and the risk of transmission to other dogs, as well as other animal species including human beings.
The American Animal Hospital Association’s Canine Task Force considers the following dog vaccinations to be core:
- Canine Parvovirus
- Canine Distemper
Non core – vaccines include
- Canine Influenza (dog flu)
- Lyme vaccine
Although these vaccines are not considered Core, they are very important for most dogs who may be exposed to these infectious diseases. At your dog’s next appointment, we will be happy to review which of the above make the most sense for your dog and make the appropriate recommendations.
Rabies vaccinations are required by law in most states, including Florida. Owners must periodically have their dogs and puppies vaccinated against rabies, but the specific time frames for puppy vaccinations and dog vaccinations vary by state. In Florida, puppy rabies vaccine is generally given at 12-16 weeks ( no earlier than week 12), and the rabies vaccination is good for one year. For adult dogs, the rabies vaccination is good for three years and should be addressed at the time of the first visit for new patients. For example, a puppy would receive the rabies vaccine at 16 weeks, 1 year and then again at age 4.
Are There Optional Dog Vaccines?
Although puppy vaccines and dog vaccinations are very important to the overall health and wellness of your canine companion, not every puppy or dog needs to be vaccinated against every disease. Some canine vaccinations should only be administered depending upon factors including:
- Medical history
- Travel habits
Therefore, it is very important for us to discuss the vaccination protocol that’s right for your canine companion at your next appointment.
When To Start Puppy Vaccinations
In general, a puppy should start vaccines as soon as you get the puppy (this is usually between 6 and 8 weeks) and then every three weeks until approximately four months of age when it will receive the final round. Generally, if the puppy’s mother has a healthy immune system, it will most likely receive antibodies in the mother’s milk while nursing. After a puppy has been weaned off of the mother’s milk, vaccinations should begin.
Puppy Vaccination Schedule
We typically recommend the following vaccination schedule for puppies:
- 6-10 weeks: DHPP, Kennel Cough
- 11-14 weeks: DHPP, Leptospirosis, Canine Influenza, Lyme Disease
- 15-16: DHPP, Leptospirosis, Canine Influenza, Lyme Disease, Rabies
- Canine influenza and lyme disease vaccines are given depending on the lifestyle of the dog
* DHPP – distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza.
It is important to stay current with your puppy vaccine schedule. Puppy vaccinations have been medically proven to combat many preventable diseases and illnesses that can occur without proper immunizations. Adhering to a puppy vaccine schedule is synonymous with responsible puppy care. Your puppy deserves every chance to be healthy and happy for life and vaccinations play an important role. Don’t run the risk of your puppy contracting one of these terrible diseases, when they are so easily preventable.
**Some puppies may need additional vaccinations against parvovirus after 15 weeks of age. Consult with the veterinarian at your next appointment.
Dog Vaccination Schedule
Once your puppy reaches adulthood, and all of the core puppy vaccines have been administered, your veterinarian can begin implementing an adult dog vaccination schedule. A dog vaccination schedule consists of periodic adult boosters*, which are combinations of the same type of DHPP vaccine administered to puppies, along with several other additions.
When dogs come in for their first one year visit, we recommend boostering their DHPP, Leptospirosis, and Rabies vaccines as well as Canine Influenza and Lyme if the lifestyle of the dog requires these vaccines. If Kennel Cough (Bordetella) is due at this time, it should also be administered.
The Amount Of Time Each Vaccination Is Effective Is As Follows:
- DHPP – 3 years
- Rabies – 3 years
- Leptospirosis – 1 year
- Canine Influenza – 1 year
- Lyme Disease – 1 year
- Bordetella (Kennel Cough) – 6 months
** AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines: https://www.aaha.org/public_documents/professional/guidelines/caninevacc…
Side Effects And Risks Associated With Dog Vaccinations
The benefits of vaccinations far outweigh any risks. Adverse reactions to dog vaccines are rare. However, As with any medication or immunization protocol, puppy vaccinations and dog vaccinations can cause some side effects. We do recommend that you have your puppy or dog vaccinated at time when when you can monitor them after the vaccination.
If your dog does experience any reaction to vaccinations, symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Facial or paw swelling and/or hives
- Pain or swelling around the injection site
- Collapse, difficulty breathing, and seizures (anaphylactic shock)
Just as with human vaccines, mild symptoms can be ignored. The majority of reactions are mild and short lived. If you suspect a more severe reaction to puppy vaccines or dog vaccines, such as facial swelling, vomiting or lethargy, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
Scheduling An Appointment For Dog Vaccinations
As with any other immunization protocol, a dog vaccination schedule should be adhered to without deviation, in order to ensure your canine companion remains healthy, happy and well for the duration of his or her life. Schedule an appointment for your canine companion to receive their vaccinations today.
Everything You Need To know About Cat Vaccinations
The importance of vaccinations to the overall health and longevity of your cat cannot be understated. Cat vaccines are medically and scientifically proven to combat the incubation and transmission of crippling and fatal feline diseases. The Premier Veterinary Care veterinary staff is dedicated to educating clients about the importance of cat vaccinations, including what cat vaccines are necessary, and when they should be scheduled.
It is important to note that our doctors don’t follow a “one size fits all’ protocol for immunizations, but rather treat each patient as an individual and recommend the best possible protocols for that particular cat by looking at their risk factors such as age, overall health and lifestyle.
Over the years we have fielded many questions about cat vaccinations from concerned kitten and cat owners. Here, we have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions to help you better understand the issues surrounding cat vaccinations. This is only meant to be a general introduction to cat vaccinations, so please consult with one of our veterinarians during your next visit for specific information regarding kitten vaccinations or cat vaccinations where your feline is concerned.
Are Kitten Vaccinations And Cat Vaccinations Necessary?
The answer is yes. A kitten or cat owner is responsible for the wellbeing of their feline friend this includes happiness and longevity of life. Cat vaccinations are integral component in the longevity equation. Kitten vaccinations and cat vaccinations are medically and scientifically proven to prevent various insidious diseases.
Are Cat Vaccinations Required By Law?
Rabies is the only cat vaccination required by law in the state of Florida. This is due primarily to the threat rabies poses to human beings, and the speed at which rabies can spread. Although other cat and kitten vaccinations are not legally required by law, they are important because they protect your cat from serious disease.
What Cat Vaccines Are Recommended?
The American Association of Feline Practitioners has determined what vaccinations should be administered for cats. You should discuss what vaccinations are necessary for your cat at your next visit. However, the following vaccinations are commonly recommended:
- FVRCP* – Feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia
- FeLV – Feline Leukemia
What Are The Recommended Kitten And Cat Vaccination Schedules?
Kitten vaccinations and cat vaccinations are dependent upon several factors, including preexisting medical conditions and indoor or outdoor living situations. You should always discuss these factors with a veterinarian to determine what your cat vaccine schedule should be. However, we have listed an approximate cat vaccine schedule here for an average indoor housecat to give you an idea of a cat vaccination timeline:
- 6-10 Weeks Old: FVRCP (feline distemper)
- 11-14 Weeks Old: FVRCP (feline distemper), FeLV (feline leukemia)
- 15+ Weeks Old: FVRCP (feline distemper), FeLV (feline leukemia), rabies vaccine
Adult Cat Vaccinations
Vaccines are given to your cat one year after the end of the kitten series. Combination Vaccine FVRCP, or feline distemper, FeLV for felines at risk of exposure to feline leukemia virus (cats that are unsupervised outdoors), and rabies annually as required by law.
*A combination vaccine includes feline distemper, rhinotracheitis, and calicivirus.
**According to the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners, cats at low risk of disease exposure may not need to be boostered yearly for most diseases. Consult with the veterinarian at your next visit to determine the appropriate vaccination schedule for your cat. Remember, recommendations vary depending on the age, breed, and health status of the cat, the potential of the cat to be exposed to the disease, the type of vaccine, whether the cat is used for breeding, and the geographical area where the cat lives or may visit.
Are There Risks Associated With Cat Vaccinations?
Cat vaccinations stimulate your kitten or cat’s immune system in order to create protection from specific infectious diseases. This can cause mild symptoms to occur ranging from soreness at the injection site to fever and allergic reactions. Cat vaccinations can cause other risks like injection site tumors and immune disease, however such incidences are extremely rare and can be linked to pre-existing genetic and medical conditions. Because of the potential for injection site reactions, we give each vaccine in a specific location that is noted in the cat’s medical record.
The fact is, the rewards of cat vaccinations far outweigh any risks. Cat vaccines have saved countless lives and play a vital role in the battle against feline infectious disease. As with any medical procedure, there is a small chance of negative side effects. In most cases, the risks are much smaller than the risks of disease itself.
Are There Any Side Effects I Should Watch For After Cat Vaccination?
Most cats show no ill side effect from receiving a cat vaccine. If your cat does have a reaction, they are usually minor and short-lived. However, you should still be on the lookout for the following symptoms that might indicate negative side effects from a cat vaccine:
- Severe lethargy
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling and redness around the injection site
If you suspect your cat is experiencing any ill side effects from his or her cat vaccine, call your veterinarian immediately so they can help you to determine whether any special care is needed.
When Should I Schedule Kitten Vaccinations And Cat Vaccinations?
You should schedule your kitten vaccinations as soon as you get your new kitten. Regardless of the age, your new kitten should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. It is important to get a preventive health care plan in place including vaccinations, de worming and flea control. In addition, we will spend time discussing behavioral training to make sure your kitten develops good behaviors and becomes a great pet.
Plan on spending at least thirty minutes at your first visit. This is a great time to get all your questions answered on kitten care and discuss the recommended preventive program with our veterinary team.
An adult cat vaccination schedule, which includes periodic booster immunizations, will be scheduled one year after the kitten vaccination schedule has been completed.
As with any other immunization protocol, a cat vaccination schedule should be adhered to without deviation, in order to ensure your cat remains healthy and well for the duration of his or her life. We cannot control all health issues but we can prevent the majority of infectious disease with the proper vaccine schedule.