From the Doctors: What You Need to Know about Vaccines

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From the Doctors: What You Need to Know about Vaccines

Vaccinations are a critical tool veterinarians use to protect your pet. There are several vaccines available and knowing which ones are appropriate for your pet can be tricky.

Vaccines are fragile and if not cared for properly may become ineffective. The efficacy of vaccines purchased at feed stores cannot be guaranteed, therefore we always recommend having your pets vaccinated by your veterinarian.

Rabies is the only vaccine required by law. It is a fatal virus that is carried by wild animals and has the potential to infect people. This vaccine is not available over the counter, and must be administered by a veterinarian. Every dog and cat must be vaccinated for rabies.

Parvovirus Of all the diseases we vaccinate for in dogs, parvovirus is one of the most deadly and most commonly encountered. This virus can live in the environment for years and, as with all viruses, there is no cure. The vaccine for parvovirus is highly effective, so keeping this vaccination current is of the utmost importance.

Bordetella is another important immunization that helps protect your dog against kennel cough. Kennel cough can spread rapidly through a kennel and is required for boarding, training classes, and often at grooming facilities. It is recommended that this vaccine be boostered every six months.

Leptospirosis is a disease dogs get from drinking contaminated water. It is a potentially deadly disease that can also spread to people. If your dog drinks from rivers, lakes, ponds, or potentially contaminated water please speak with your veterinarian about the Leptospirosis vaccine.

In addition to Rabies, there are two very important vaccines for cats, feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and FVRCP. Cats contract feline leukemia through bodily secretions of infected cats, that may or may not appear sick. The FVRCP vaccine protects cats against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia (feline parvovirus) and is highly effective.

There are also vaccines available for rattlesnake bites and influenza. These vaccines are controversial and should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Typically vaccines are started when your puppy or kitten is around 8 weeks old, and administered every 3 weeks until they are 4 months of age. Some vaccines are annual and others can be given every 3 years. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian to get your pet on a regular vaccine schedule.

Posted Monday, June 30, 2014