August is National Immunization Awareness Month: Pet Vaccines:  Is Your Pet Up to Date?

Regularly scheduled wellness exams at and vaccines keep you and your pet healthy.  But what vaccines does your beloved pet need?  Here is an overview of the vaccines that both dogs and cats need during their lifetime to stay protected against preventable diseases. 

What Are Vaccines?

Vaccines are shots (or a nasal spray) that contain preparations to stimulate an immune response in your pet’s body against preventable diseases.  After preparing a response to that bacteria or virus, your pet’s body saves that information in case of “reinfection.”  We administer pet vaccines under the skin, not into the muscle like human vaccines

Why are vaccines important?

Vaccines are important because they protect your pet, your family, and the people and pets around you against many diseases. These diseases can be very serious. So, getting immunity from a vaccine is safer than getting immunity by being sick with the disease.

Core vs. Non-Core Vaccines for Dogs and Cats

Vaccinations for your pet are classified as core and non-core vaccinations. Core vaccines are vaccinations that are recommended for all pets. Non-core vaccines are “lifestyle” vaccinations that are recommended by us based on a pet’s unique medical history and lifestyle. When you bring your pet to see your veterinarian at Van Meter Veterinary Clinic, we will discuss with you the vaccines your pets need based on his or her history, age and lifestyle.

  • Rabies is a zoonotic (will spread to people) virus that causes neurologic complications in affected animals, and it is fatal. For these reasons, rabies vaccination is required by law, even for pets who don’t go outside often. This is because a pet who slips out the door can easily encounter an infected animal—or an infected bat can quickly fly into a home. Rabies vaccines are available for dogs, cats, ferrets, horses, and several other species. Rabies is a core vaccine and is required by Texas state law.

  • Distemper: DAPP vaccines for dogs, FVRCP for cats.  Distemper is a virus that attacks the respiratory system. For dogs, the distemper vaccine is often combined with parvovirus, adenovirus and hepatitis vaccines and is also called the DA2P vaccine.  For cats it is combined with calicivirus and panleukopenia and is called the FVRCP vaccine. All of these viruses are most likely to attack very young or more elderly pets, but they are very easily spread between members of the same species and can quickly cause an outbreak. Distemper is a core vaccine.
  • Leptospirosis, or “lepto,” is a type of bacteria that attacks the kidneys, nervous system, and liver. Like rabies, it is both zoonotic and fatal. It is spread through the urine of infected animals; in rural areas/suburbs, it is most often found in deer, squirrels, moles, skunks and rabbits, while in more urban areas rodents like mice and rats are the major carriers.
  • Bordetella is better known as “kennel cough.” It spreads very quickly from dog to dog and causes a slight fever along with its hallmark hacking cough. Environments with lots of dogs in tight quarters, such as day care and grooming facilities, are where most infections are likely to occur—so this vaccine is a lifestyle vaccine recommended for dogs who board, groom, or go to dog parks or day care.
  • Feline Leukemia, or FeLV, is a virus that is spread from cat to cat via saliva and causes symptoms very similar to leukemia in humans. Also a lifestyle vaccine, FeLV is recommended only for cats who go outdoors or interact with other cats who do.
  • Lyme is a bacteria that is spread by ticks. It can affect people and dogs but cannot be spread from one to the other without tick involvement—this means that ticks are vectors for Lyme disease. Those that are not at risk are indoor-only dogs who are current on their year-round flea and tick preventative.

Van Meter Veterinary Clinic Makes It Easy to Vaccinate Your Pets

During your pet’s wellness exam, we will review your pet’s lifestyle and recommend the vaccines your pet needs to stay healthy.  Call us today to schedule a wellness and vaccine exam for your pet.  Please talk to your veterinarian at Van Meter Veterinary Clinic with any questions or concerns you may have about your pet. 

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