Pet Vaccinations 101: What Does My Pet Really Need?

Pet Vaccinations 101: What Does My Pet Really Need?

Pet Vaccinations 101: What Does My Pet Really Need?

When you receive your reminder about your pet’s annual vaccines, does it all seem Greek to you? We understand that pet diseases and vaccinations have some unusual names but learning how these life-saving vaccinations protect your furry pal is an essential part of pet ownership. Let’s take a closer look at the vaccinations and preventable diseases we’ll discuss during your pet’s wellness visit

What vaccines does my dog need?

Dogs can develop a wide array of infectious diseases, but they can be prevented or minimized with these vaccinations:

  • Distemper — A serious disease that can have lifelong effects, canine distemper can affect your dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. You may notice the common signs of sneezing, lethargy, coughing, eye and nose discharge, vomiting, and diarrhea, but the disease can progress and cause a head tilt, circling, seizures, and repetitive eye movements, and often becomes fatal.
  • Adenovirus — Also known as infectious hepatitis, adenovirus in dogs can cause lethargy, decreased appetite, and a mild fever. Other signs can include a cloudy opacity in the eyes, a cough, and eye and nasal discharge. Young puppies with severe cases, which are generally fatal, may develop vomiting, diarrhea, and jaundice.
  • Parvovirus — A potentially life-threatening gastrointestinal virus, parvo is most common in young, unvaccinated puppies. Known for causing vomiting and diarrhea, which may be bloody, parvovirus attacks the intestinal tract lining and can rapidly become fatal without aggressive treatment. Parvo is highly contagious and can easily spread through an infected dog’s bodily fluids. 
  • Rabies — Rabies vaccination is required by law because rabies is a fatal condition for pets and people. Carried in the U.S. primarily by wildlife, rabies is a progressive condition that causes neurologic issues, with no cure. In dogs, rabies must be boostered annually or every three years. 
  • Bordetella — A highly contagious respiratory infection, Bordetella is also known as kennel cough, because dogs most often contract the infection at boarding facilities, animal shelters, or other areas with large, closely crowded dog populations. Bordetella causes a dry, hacking cough that can typically be elicited on tracheal palpation, and can also lead to secondary respiratory infections.
  • Leptospirosis — Leptospirosis, or lepto, is transmitted by bacteria found in soil or water. Pets can contract this illness through contact with urine passed by infected wildlife, or by drinking from contaminated water bodies. People can contract this disease from their dogs, but also from swimming in contaminated water. Early signs can be vague, but the disease can progress into kidney failure, exhibited by excessive thirst and urination. 
  • Lyme — Lyme disease is a common tick-borne illness transmitted by black-legged, or deer, ticks. While year-round tick prevention is the ideal protection against Lyme disease, high-risk pets should also be vaccinated. Lyme disease can cause shifting leg lameness, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and inappetence. 

In dogs, core vaccines include rabies, distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus. Non-core vaccinations, which are given based on lifestyle and exposure risk, include Bordetella, canine influenza, lepto, and Lyme. 

What vaccines does my cat need?

Indoor cats also need vaccines, as you can carry home pathogens on your clothes and shoes. The following vaccines are given to cats:

  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis — Caused by a herpesvirus, feline viral rhinotracheitis is a major cause of upper respiratory disease and conjunctivitis in cats. All cats who become infected will carry this disease for life, and stress and illness can cause flare-ups. 
  • Calicivirus — Another common feline respiratory disease, calicivirus attacks the cat’s respiratory tract, mouth, intestines, and musculoskeletal system. Infected cats most commonly show a loss of appetite, fever, sneezing, eye and nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, and ulcers on the tongue. 
  • Panleukopenia — Panleukopenia is similar in kittens to parvovirus in puppies, and causes vomiting and diarrhea. Without aggressive treatment, kittens can quickly become dehydrated and die, and the disease can spread like wildfire through an animal shelter’s feline population. 
  • Feline leukemia — Feline leukemia, one of the most common infectious diseases in cats, can be spread through grooming and sharing food, water, and litter boxes. Over time, the disease takes its toll on an infected cat, negatively affecting their health, and potentially leading to weight loss, anorexia, poor coat condition, persistent fever, pale gums, gingivitis, and skin, bladder, and upper respiratory tract infections. 
  • Rabies — Cats must also be vaccinated for rabies, whether or not they live strictly indoors.

Like dogs, cats need core and non-core vaccinations, although feline leukemia is the only non-core vaccination for cats. The others are considered essential for all cats.

While this may seem like an extensive list of vaccinations, most are combination vaccines, which minimizes the “pokes” your pet receives. Plus, many viral disease vaccinations have a three-year efficacy, further reducing your pet’s annual vaccinations.

If you’re searching for a Metairie veterinarian to vaccinate your pet based on their lifestyle and exposure risk, look no further than Animal Medical and Surgical HospitalContact our team to schedule your pet’s appointment for their wellness and preventive care.