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Let’s Talk About Vaccines

Posted 12.05.17 by Kimberly Gaddis, DVM

Depending on how you’ve acquired your new family member, he or she may have already received one or two vaccinations. Vaccines are used to stimulate our pets’ immune systems to prepare them for exposure to potentially harmful diseases.  Although vaccines may not prevent 100% of disease, they definitely decrease the severity of disease.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are two categories of vaccines. One being core, which are recommended for all pets, and another being non-core. The non-core vaccines are given based on lifestyle environment, and geographical location of pets.

Dog core vaccines:

  • Rabies
  • Distemper/Adenovirus/Parvovirus (DA2P)

Dog non-core vaccines:

  • Bordetella (infectious tracheobronchitis, aka ‘kennel cough’)
  • Parainfluenza
  • Canine Influenza
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme

Cat core vaccines:

  • Rabies
  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis/Calicivirus/Panleukopenia (FVRCP)

Cat non-core vaccines:

  • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

As a puppy, The Pet Hospitals recommends  a “series” of vaccines. This is necessary because between the ages of 8-12 weeks old, the maternal protection they once had starts to wane. With our vaccines, we supplement these young animals’ immune systems to prevent or lessen severity of diseases like Parvo and Distemper. The same goes for our kittens and viruses like Calici and Panleukopenia.

Once our puppies and kittens are done with their vaccines series, it is recommended that they return after one year for booster vaccines. Our core vaccines can be boostered once every three years (Rabies, DA2P, and FVRCP), but some of our non-core vaccinations should be boostered every year.

Leptospirosis is a non-core vaccine that I recommend for all of my canine patients. Leptospira is a bacteria that is spread by wildlife and is often found in stagnant water, like puddles and ponds. It can lead to many problems, but the most common is kidney damage. Although our more athletic dogs that frequent bodies of water are at higher risk, our smaller dogs who only go to the backyard to use the bathroom can also be exposed! Leptospirosis is also what we call “zoonotic”, meaning it is transmissible to humans. So my recommendation to protect your pet from this disease is also intended to protect you and your family.

Feline Leukemia (FeLV) is a non-core vaccine that is recommended for all kittens, however, if not at high risk, can be discontinued as they grow into adults. Feline Leukemia is spread by the saliva of infected cats. If your cat goes outside or is exposed to other cats who have not been tested for FeLV, he or she should be vaccinated! Infection with this virus can lead to inability to fight of infections, blood disorders, and even cancer.

Vaccination protocols are often based on the individual patients’ needs. Please consult with a licensed veterinarian to come up with a plan that is in you and your pets’ best interests!


Dr. Kimberly Gaddis

The Pet Hospitals– Germantown

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