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August is National Immunization Awareness Month!

August 7, 2019

August is National Vaccination Awareness Month, an event designed to raise awareness about the importance of pet immunization. Most pet owners understand the value of timely vaccinations and booster shots to keep their furry companions safe from diseases such as rabies, heartworm, and distemper. However, knowing what vaccines are needed and when to have them administered can be confusing. Here are the most common vaccines that Britt Animal Hospital requires for your pet:

Core Vaccines for Dogs:

Rabies (1 year). Rabies is 100% fatal to dogs, and rabid animals pose a significant public health hazard to humans. For these reasons, the 1-year rabies vaccine is considered a core vaccine. It can be administered in a single dose to animals as young as 3 months of age. Annual boosters are recommended.

Distemper. Distemper is a viral disease that results in fever, watery eyes, loss of energy, decreased appetite, vomiting, and in severe cases, brain damage. The distemper vaccine is typically administered in 4 doses, given when the animal is between 6 and 16 weeks old. Puppies should receive a booster after 1 year, and adult dogs at 1 year intervals thereafter.

Parvovirus. “Parvo,” as it’s commonly called, is a contagious virus (among dogs) that can result in vomiting, severe bloody diarrhea, and even death. Like the distemper immunization, the parvo vaccine is typically administered in 4 doses, given when the animal is between 6 and 16 weeks old. Puppies should receive a booster after 1 year, and adult dogs at 1 year intervals thereafter.

Adenovirus Type 1 (Canine Hepatitis). Viral hepatitis in dogs is a contagious illness spread by contact with urine or feces from infected animals. If untreated, canine hepatitis can result in severe liver damage or even death. The vaccine is typically administered in 4 doses, given when the animal is between 6 and 16 weeks old. Puppies should receive a booster after 1 year, and adult dogs at 1 year intervals thereafter.

Adenovirus Type 2 (“Kennel Cough”). Spread by coughs and sneezes, kennel cough is commonly seen in animals that spend significant time being boarded with other dogs. The vaccine is typically administered in 4 doses, given when the animal is between 6 and 16 weeks old. Puppies should receive a booster after 1 year, and adult dogs at 1 year intervals thereafter.

Leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is associated with exposure to rodents and standing water. Symptoms include sudden fever, joint stiffness, lethargy, and loss of appetite. The vaccine is administered to puppies in two doses, 2–4 weeks apart, with the final dose no later than 12 weeks of age.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica. A bacterial illness. Adult dogs and pups boarded with other animals are at greatest risk. Vaccine schedules and forms vary; and both intranasal and injected forms of the vaccine are available. Booster frequency depends on risk for exposure.

Yearly Heartworm Testing. Though a heartworm test is not necessarily a "vaccine" but is a blood draw, annual testing is necessary, even when dogs are on heartworm prevention year-round, to ensure that the prevention program is working. Heartworm preventions are highly effective, but dogs can still become infected. If you miss just one-two doses of a monthly medication—or give it late—it can leave your dog unprotected.

Core Vaccines for Cats:

For cats, core vaccines include feline leukemia, feline calicivirus, feline rhinotracheitis (also known as feline herpesvirus), and rabies.
 

  • Feline calicivirus and feline rhinotracheitis. Two viruses most commonly responsible for upper respiratory infections in cats. They are common viruses and almost all cats will be exposed to them at some point in their life.
  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV). A retrovirus that infects cats. FeLV can be transmitted from infected cats when the transfer of saliva or nasal secretions is involved. If not defeated by the animal's immune system, the virus can cause diseases which can be lethal.
  • Rabies. A fatal disease that is contagious not only to other animals but to people as well.