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What Vaccines Are Actually Necessary For My Pets?

Posted 06.19.19 by Kimberly Gaddis, DVM

I have a new puppy or kitten! Now what?

Depending on how you have acquired this new family member, it may or may not have received a vaccination or two. Vaccines are used to stimulate our pets’ immune systems to prepare them for exposure to potentially harmful diseases. Some vaccines are preventive and others can lessen severity of disease significantly. These diseases are often life threatening to our animals, and very expensive to treat.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has created two categories of vaccines: core and non-core. Core vaccines are recommended for all animals, while non-core are dependent upon the lifestyle, environment, and geographical location of pets.

For DogsWire fox terrier at Lakeland doggie daycare

Core vaccines:

  • Rabies virus (required by law)
  • Canine Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Adenovirus-2.

Non-core vaccines:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Canine Influenza (H3N2 and H3N8)
  • Leptospira
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme)
  • Canine Parainfluenza virus
  • Western Diamondback Rattlesnake vaccine.

For CatsTiny kitten at Poplar

Core vaccines:

  • Rabies virus (required by law)
  • Feline Panleukopenia
  • Herpesvirus-1
  • Calicivirus

Non-core vaccines:

  • Feline Leukemia Virus

Your veterinarian can help you make the best vaccine decisions for your pet based on its lifestyle.

Why do puppies and kittens require a “series” of vaccines?

When puppies and kittens are born, they are born with protective antibodies via their mother’s milk. This protection, however, is not long-lasting! As these antibodies start to wane, their immune system will be at a disadvantage. We are simply trying to fill in these gaps with our vaccinations. The initial vaccination serves as an introduction and “primes” the immune system to fight the virus or bacteria. Vaccine “boosters” are used to stimulate the immune system to produce important antibodies to the necessary level to provide protection to our animals.

Puppies and kittens may be left vulnerable to many preventable diseases if vaccine series are left incomplete. These series are usually done in 3-4 week intervals, and are completed at around 4 months of age.

What about vaccine reactions?

Mild side effects can occur in pets after receiving vaccinations. These may include soreness or swelling at the sites of vaccinations, mild fever, decreased appetite, or lethargy. If any of these continue for more than a day or so, contact your veterinarian. If you are ever worried after your pet receives a vaccine, it is never wrong to bring them back in to the clinic.

Tired Cane CorsoLess common side effects, like allergic reactions, can also occur. Signs of this are persistent vomiting and diarrhea, hives, swelling of the muzzle/face/eyes,  difficulty breathing, or even collapse. These signs usually occur within minutes to hours after the vaccines are administered. These types of reactions are medical emergencies!  If your pet has had reactions to vaccines before, please inform your veterinarian! We can administer medications prior to vaccines to prevent reactions in sensitive animals.

Vaccines save animal’s lives, and are very important to keep up to date. If you are concerned about whether or not your animal has been adequately vaccinated, or if they are up to date, contact your veterinarian. They are the best resource for this information, and are dedicated to protecting your pets.

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