Young animals are like kids–it’s a never-ending job to keep them safe and happy. Vaccinating your pet is a relatively inexpensive but very important way to protect his or her health. In addition to preventing many life-threatening illnesses, vaccinations can prevent diseases prevalent in wildlife and those that can be passed to humans. It’s important to administer vaccinations when pets are puppies and kittens because their young immune systems are still developing and need protection to stay healthy.
While any medical treatment involves some degree of risk, in the case of vaccinations, the benefits far outweigh any potential side effects. Adverse reactions are rare and usually mild and short-term when they do occur.
Which vaccines should your pet have? “Core” vaccines are those recommended—and possibly mandated by law—for most pets. Core vaccines include:
- Rabies (dogs and cats)
- DA2PPV – Distemper, Hepatitis, Adenovirus 2, Parvo and Parainfluenza (dogs)
- FVRCP – Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (cats)
Other non-core, but highly suggested vaccinations for cats include FIV for feline immunodeficiency virus and FeLV to protect against feline leukemia. Because the efficacy of the cat FIP vaccine is not yet proven, we do not recommend it at this time.
For dogs, bordetella boosters are recommended if they frequent dog parks, boarding kennels, or any place where they’re socializing with other canines. We suggest, too, that you have your dog vaccinated for Leptospirosis, a highly contagious bacterial infection spread through contact with the urine of affected animals.
In addition to keeping your pet up to date on his or her vaccinations, we suggest yearly heartworm tests for dogs and FIV/FELV screenings for cats. Both dogs and cats should likewise undergo annual fecal tests and comprehensive bloodwork.
It’s important to note that even pets who live primarily indoors should be vaccinated, as they can still be exposed to a