Throughout their lives, pets will likely be exposed to several infectious diseases that can cause severe illness or even death, which is why vaccines are very important in managing the health of your pet. That said, not every pet needs to be vaccinated against every disease. It is very important to discuss with your veterinarian a vaccination protocol that’s right for your pet. Factors that should be examined include age, medical history, environment, travel habits and lifestyle. Any companion animals or livestock animals that are in frequent contact with humans should all be vaccinated. Even if your pet is mostly indoors they are still at risk because many contagions are airborne and can come through your open windows. Also, there is always the risk of your pet slipping out the door. Keep in mind before you take your pet to boarding kennels, dog parks or grooming salons that these are all areas where your pet is likely to be exposed to contagious diseases!
Essential Vaccinations for Your Dog
- Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus (DHPP)- Commonly called the “distemper shot,” this combination vaccine actually protects against the four diseases in its full name.
- Rabies- Rabies virus is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection. Rabies is preventable and still kills 55,000 people worldwide every year. Rabies vaccinations for dogs are required by law in most states.
Other Vaccines for Dogs
Your veterinarian may also recommend other vaccines for your dog depending on where you live and your dog’s lifestyle:
- Leptospirosis- Often included as part of the distemper combination vaccine, this bacterial infection is widespread in moist climates where there are areas of standing or slow-moving water. This disease can also be spread from animals to humans.
- Bordetella (commonly called “kennel cough”)- The bordetella virus causes an extremely contagious upper respiratory infection. Your veterinarian may recommend this vaccine before your dog goes to a dog park, groomer, boarding kennel, or dog show.
- Lyme Disease- A bacterial infection carried by ticks, this disease is extremely prevalent in certain parts of the country: in particular, the east and west coasts and the areas around the Great Lakes.
- Canine Influenza- This viral upper respiratory disease originated at a Florida racetrack in 2004 and has quickly spread across the country. Outbreaks are prevalent in animal shelters and boarding kennels.
- Corona Virus- This virus infects the intestinal tract and is more prevalent in the southern United States.
Essential Vaccines for Your Cat
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP)- Commonly called the “distemper” shot , this combination vaccine protects against three diseases: feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia (sometimes called “feline distemper”).
- Rabies- Rabies virus is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection. Rabies is preventable and still kills 55,000 people worldwide every year. Rabies vaccinations for cats are required by law in most states.
Other Vaccines for Cats
Your veterinarian may also recommend other vaccines for your cat depending on where you live and your cat’s lifestyle:
- Chlamydia- Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis, and the vaccination for it is often included in the distemper combination vaccine.
- Feline Leukemia (Felv)- Felv is a viral infection that is only transmitted through close contact (saliva, scratches, or blood).
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)- FIV is a viral infection that is only transmitted through close contact (saliva, scratches, or blood).
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). A viral infection most common in catteries and feral colonies, FIP is almost always fatal. Most house cats do not have a significant risk of contracting this disease.