Vaccines play an important role in your pet’s health by protecting them from life-threatening diseases. But understanding which vaccines your pet needs—at a specific age and why—can be perplexing. Follow this primer to learn about our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers at Wallisville veterinarians’ vaccine recommendations, and make informed decisions about your pet’s health.
Individualized vaccine protocols for pets
As an NVC at Wallisville patient, your pet receives a personalized vaccine protocol to ensure they are completely protected from common contagious diseases while avoiding unnecessary vaccinations. Before administering any vaccination to your pet, your veterinarian considers their unique characteristics:
- Life stage — Puppies and kittens receive a vaccine series (i.e., one vaccine every three to four weeks beginning at 6 to 8 weeks of age until they reach 16 weeks of age) to build appropriate immunity. Adult vaccine schedules can vary, but are generally administered every one to three years.
- Lifestyle and activities — Pets who travel, visit dog parks, see groomers, or attend training or boarding facilities are required to have specific vaccinations.
- Health — Immunocompromised and senior pets may require a reduced vaccine schedule.
- Risk factors — Wallisville and Southeast Texas regional risk factors include outbreaks of diseases such as canine influenza or an increase in case numbers of diseases such as leptospirosis.
Common vaccines for pets
As your pet’s needs change, so will your veterinarian’s vaccine recommendations. Each year during your pet’s annual wellness visit, your veterinarian re-evaluates your furry pal’s vaccine protocol, which includes vaccine frequency. This brief overview describes the vaccines your veterinarian may include in your pet’s personalized protocol:
- Rabies in pets — Rabies is a nearly 100% fatal virus transmitted through bite wounds from infected wildlife (e.g., bats, raccoons, foxes, and skunks) or pets. Because rabies is zoonotic—meaning this virus can be transmitted from animals to humans—State of Texas law requires vaccination for dogs and cats older than 4 months of age. Adult pets should receive rabies vaccination every one to three years in accordance with state and local regulations.
- Distemper and parvovirus in dogs — Distemper and parvovirus are often administered as a combination vaccine—DA2PP or DHPP—which also protects your dog from adenovirus (i.e., hepatitis) and parainfluenza. Distemper and parvovirus are highly contagious viruses that commonly affect unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated puppies and adult dogs. Without hospitalization, a pet affected by either virus experiences rapidly declining health—and despite receiving care, many dogs do not survive. For reliable protection, puppies should receive the complete puppy vaccine series, and adult dogs should be vaccinated every one to three years.
- Bordetella in dogs — Bordetella (i.e., kennel cough) is a respiratory virus frequently transmitted in places dogs frequent such as boarding, grooming, and training facilities. Although self-limiting, the virus causes dogs to experience a persistent cough, fever, and nasal discharge. Annual bordetella vaccination is advised for all puppies and dogs who may interact with other pets, and who visit places dogs frequent.
- Canine influenza — Canine influenza (i.e., H3N2, H3N8, or dog flu) is a contagious respiratory disease that moves rapidly through high-volume canine facilities including shelters and boarding kennels. Infected dogs may show mild flu-like signs or severe illness, or remain subclinical. Canine influenza vaccination is recommended for dogs who frequent boarding, grooming, or training facilities, or who visit dog parks.
- Leptospirosis in dogs — Leptospirosis is a life-threatening bacterial infection transmitted through infected wildlife urine or contaminated water or soil. The infection spreads to an infected dog’s kidneys, liver, and central nervous system, and can become fatal rapidly. The Southwestern U.S.—including central and Southeast Texas—is a leptospirosis infection hot spot. Veterinary professionals recommend leptospirosis vaccination for all dogs, but strongly recommend this vaccine for dogs who live or play in high-risk areas, which includes those who hunt, or live on farms or near wooded areas.
- Lyme disease in dogs — Once confined to the Northeast, tick-transmitted Lyme disease is now found in nearly every U.S. state. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, Southeast Texas case numbers continue to climb annually. Lyme disease causes joint pain and swelling, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and in severe cases, kidney failure. Lyme disease vaccination is advised for active outdoor dogs—especially those who frequent wooded areas.
- Feline panleukopenia — The feline panleukopenia vaccine is often administered as a combination vaccine (FVRCP) that includes the feline upper respiratory virus complex. Kittens most commonly contract this highly contagious and fatal disease, which spreads through direct contact in the environment or in utero, and attacks rapidly growing and dividing cells in the bone marrow and intestines. Kittens should receive the complete panleukopenia vaccine series and a booster at 12 months of age. After completing their full panleukopenia vaccine series, adult cats may be boosted every three years, depending on their personal risk factors.
- Feline calicivirus and viral rhinotracheitis — Calicivirus and feline viral rhinotracheitis (i.e., herpesvirus) are upper respiratory viruses that cause cats to experience mild to severe illness. Both viruses are transmitted through contaminated aerosolized droplets or close contact with an infected cat. Hospitalization may be required to treat nasal congestion, dehydration, inappetence, and pneumonia. Kittens should receive the complete feline calicivirus and viral rhinotracheitis vaccine series (i.e., FVRCP) and a booster at 12 months of age. After completing their full feline calicivirus and viral rhinotracheitis vaccine series, adult cats may be boosted every three years, depending on their personal risk factors.
- Feline leukemia — Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) attacks a cat’s immune system, and causes chronic health issues such as cancer, blood disorders, and opportunistic infections. FeLV is transmitted through close prolonged contact with an infected cat, therefore veterinary professionals advise cat owners to keep their feline friends indoors, and to have all cats tested before coming in contact with companions of the same species. FeLV vaccination is strongly recommended for kittens because they are more susceptible to infection than older cats. If your adult cat is at risk for feline leukemia, your veterinarian will likely recommend they receive booster vaccines.
The decisions you make today regarding your pet’s health—in partnership with your Neighborhood Veterinary Centers at Wallisville veterinarian—help your furry companion live a longer, healthier life. Contact Southeast Texas’s premier veterinary team to schedule your pet’s wellness examination, and find out which vaccines they should receive.
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