Why A Series Of Vaccinations?

Vaccinations for Puppies:

There are many diseases that may be fatal to dogs.  Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent many of these by the use of very effective vaccines.  In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections.  Ideally, they are given at about 6, 9, 12, and 16 weeks of age, but this schedule may vary somewhat depending on several factors.  We will recommend vaccinating your puppy every three to four weeks until they are at least 16 weeks old.  (The last two vaccinations must occur at/after 12 weeks of age.)

The routine vaccination schedule will protect your puppy from six diseases: distemper virus, viral hepatitis , parainfluenza virus, parvo virus, leptosporosis, and rabies virus.  The first four are included in one injection that is given around 6, 9, 12, and 16 weeks old.  Leptospirosis is usually started with the 12 week vaccinations and then repeated once again at the 16 week visit.   There are three other recommended  but optional vaccinations that are appropriate in certain situations:  kennel cough, influenza, and lyme.  Your puppy should receive two kennel cough vaccines if exposure to other dogs is expected (for example:  a trip to a boarding kennel or groomer, if it will be placed in a puppy training class, or visiting dog parks ).  Kennel cough vaccine will also be required for the hospital stay for spaying or neutering.  Vaccination for Influenza may also be needed in those situations.  Lyme vaccine is given to dogs that are exposed to ticks because Lyme Disease is transmitted by ticks.  Please advise us of your puppy’s lifestyle during your next visit so that we may develop an appropriate vaccination plan.

What are the Vaccinations

1) DAPP – this is a 4-in-1 vaccination that provides protection from four highly contagious viruses that when severe, may be life-threatening.  This vaccine includes Distemper virus, Adenovirus (CAV-1 and CAV-2), Parainfluenza virus and Parvovirus .   Puppies initially receive a DAPP vaccine between 6 and 9 weeks of age, then re-vaccinated every 3-4 weeks until at least 16 weeks of age.  Unvaccinated puppies over 16 weeks of age and unvaccinated adult dogs only need an initial DAPP vaccine and an additional booster vaccine 3-4 weeks later.   Thereafter dogs should be vaccinated every 1-3 years.

1)  Distemper vaccine – this vaccine is given to prevent infection with the canine distemper virus.  The distemper virus is shed in all dog bodily fluids but most commonly is transmitted through respiratory aerosol secretions via coughing or sneezing.  Infection is more common in puppies as they usually have not yet been vaccinated or have only had an incomplete series of vaccinations.   Distemper may cause mild disease but may also be fatal.  Symptoms are wide ranging and usually begin 10-14 days after infection.  Often early symptoms may include:  lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, nasal discharge, eye disorders, coughing,  and difficulty breathing.  Rapid progression of the disease then results in vomiting and diarrhea.   Eventually the virus may cause varying  neurological symptoms including tremors, loss of balance, lameness and seizures.  The classic neurological distemper sign is that of “chewing gum” seizures in which the small seizures result in snapping or tremors of the jaw similar to a chewing appearance.   Advanced stages of infection may lead to death.   Diagnostic tests are available but may not always completely confirm infection making it sometimes difficult to accurately diagnose.  Affected puppies may require hospitalization for supportive care with IV fluids and medications until hopefully the immune system can ward off the viral infection. The prognosis for recovery is unpredictable and some pets may have permanent neurological issues afterwards that if debilitating may require euthanasia.

2) Adenovirus vaccine – this vaccine is given to provide immunity to both canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1)and canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2).  Both viruses are similar but cause different diseases in dogs.    Infection with CAV-1, also called Canine Infectious Hepatitis, causes significant liver disease.  CAV-2 is the strain of virus that may be associated with Kennel Cough Complex that results in respiratory symptoms similar to that of Bordetella. Diagnosis and treatment are also similar to that of Bordetella.

3) Parainfluenza  virus vaccine – this vaccine is given to provide protection against canine parainfluenza virus.  Parainfluenza virus is another possible cause for Kennel Cough Complex that results in respiratory symptoms similar to that of Bordetella.  Diagnosis and treatment are also similar to that of Bordetella.

4) Parvovirus vaccine – this vaccine is given to prevent infection with the canine parvo virus.  The parvo virus is shed through the feces of an infected dogs.  The virus is then prominent in the environment and may remain infectious in outdoor (grass, gardens, sidewalks, etc) or indoor areas (floors, kennels, shoes, carpet, etc) for many months. Unvaccinated puppies or puppies with an incomplete vaccination series then become infected when the virus is exposed to the oral cavity through grooming, licking or chewing contaminated objects.  The virus usually attacks the bone marrow and intestinal tract.  Typically symptoms begin 3 to 7 days after exposure.  The virus may result in severe life threatening symtpoms and can be fatal.  Symptoms usually include lethargy, loss of appetite, dehydration, vomiting and profuse diarrhea that often becomes bloody.  Severe cases suffer from immunosuppression and toxic secondary bacterial infections.   An initial diagnosis is often made based on clinical symptoms, fecal testing and blood work.  Affected puppies will will likley require several days of hospitalization for intensive care administering IV fluids and medications until hopefully the immune system can ward off the viral infection.  The prognosis is better with aggressive intensive care.

5) Leptospirosis vaccine

6) Rabies vaccine  – this vaccine is given to prevent infection with the rabies virus.  The rabies virus is eventually transmitted through all bodily secretions/fluids of an infected mammal.  Rabies virus is most often found in wild life.  Commonly infected wild animals include:  bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes and coyotes .  The typical route of infection is through a bite wound that penetrates into another animal’s or human’s tissues.  Infection through contamination of bodily fluids into open wounds and mucous membranes such as the mouth rarely occurs.   Once the virus enters the body it may take days to many months, and even up to a year,  before symptoms begin.  Symptoms may include changes in behavior, subtle neurological symptoms, chewing or licking at the site of the initial bite wound, disorientation, seizures, weakness, paralysis, changes in the tone of the bark/meow, labored breathing, coma and death.  Symptoms occur over 3 to 7 days and is ALWAYS fatal.   There are no diagnostic tests for infected live animals and no effective treatment.  PREVENTION is the only option.

7)  Lyme vaccine

8) Bordetella vaccine – this vaccine is given to improve protection from the highly contagious Bordetella bacteria that is commonly associated with “kennel cough”.  There are 3 different types of Bordetella vaccines: a nasal liquid, an injection and an oral liquid.  These vaccines may not provide complete immunity from infection but can reduce the duration and severity of the infection should it occur.  Kennel cough is a term describing the typical symptom of a harsh cough followed by a gag or retch.  Bordetella is only one of several components to the Kennel Cough Complex of respiratory infectious diseases.  Other infections related to this complex may also include :  parainfluenza virus,  adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2), distemper virus, influenza virus, and mycoplasma.  Bordetella is transmitted through coughing and spread of the bacteria through respiratory secretions.  These secretions may then be inhaled by your nearby puppy or may contiminate neary objects that then pose as a source of infection as well.  Infection often occurs in the upper airways but may progress to affect the lungs as well.  Symptoms may begin within a few days of exposure and can last 1 to 2 weeks.   Symptoms may include a dry harsh cough, and gagging or retching associated with the cough, fever, lethargy, and difficulty breathing due to pneumonia in severe cases.   Diagnosis is often made based on historical exposure and physical exam findings.  Infection mostly commonly occurs when exposed  to other dogs in higher risk areas such as groomers, kennels, training classes, dog shows and dog parks.  Additional lab tests and xrays may be needed.  Antibiotics and cough suppressants are usually prescribed.  Bordetella may continue to be shed for 2 to 3 months even after symptoms resolve.

9) Influenza vaccine – this vaccine is given to protect from infection with the highly contagious influenza virus.  There are currently two strains of influenza virus that may infect your puppy and newer vaccines incorporate both strains.  Vaccination may not provide complete immunity but can reduce the duration and severity of the viral infection should it occur.    Influenza virus is transmitted nasal and respiratory secretions.  Unfortunately most infected dogs are contagious even before they become symptomatic.  Symptoms may range from mild to severe.  Symptoms may include lethargy, decreased appetite, sneezing, nasal discharge, coughing, and mild fever.  More severe infections may result in high fevers and pneumonia.   Symptoms may persist for 10-30 days but many times dogs recover in 14-21 days.  Diagnosis is often made based on historical exposure, physical exam findings and laboratory tests.  Infection mostly commonly occurs when exposed  to other dogs in higher risk areas such as groomers, kennels, training classes, dog shows and dog parks.  Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms and may include cough suppressants,  fluid therapy, and antibiotics for secondary bacterial pneumonia.

Why the Series of Vaccinations

When the puppy nurses on its mother, it receives a temporary form of immunity through its mother’s milk.  This immunity is in the form of proteins called antibodies.  For about 24-48 hours after birth, the puppy’s intestine absorbs these antibodies directly into the blood stream.  This immunity is of benefit during the first several weeks of the puppy’s life, but at some point, this immunity fails and the puppy is left with no additional immunity.  Each puppy must then be able to make its own long-lasting immunity.  Vaccinations are used for this purpose, to stimulate the immune system into generating it’s own protective amount of antibodies.   As long as the mother’s antibodies are present they will interfere with the vaccination’s ability to stimulate the puppy’s immune system.   Many factors determine when the puppy will be able to respond to the vaccinations.  These include the level of immunity in the mother dog, how much antibody has been absorbed, and the number of vaccines given to the puppy.  Therefore, a series of vaccinations is required to ensure that each puppy produces an appropriate amount of antibodies.  A single vaccination, even if effective, is not likely to stimulate the long-term immunity that is so important.

Vaccinations for Kittens:

There are many diseases that may be fatal to cats.  Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent many of these by using very effective vaccines.  In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections.  Ideally, they are given at about 6, 9, 12, and 16 weeks of age, but this schedule may vary somewhat depending on several factors.

The core routine vaccination schedule will protect your kitten from four diseases: distemper, two respiratory viruses, leukemia and rabies.  The first three are included in a combination vaccine that is given at 6, 9, 12, and 16 weeks old.    Leukemia vaccine is necessary as a kitten and it’s first year booster vaccination.  It will also be needed as an adult if your cat will ever see other cats, be boarded or groomed, or you may leave windows open at times in the year.  Leukemia vaccination is needed at 12 and 16 weeks of age.   If your cat presents for vaccination after 12 weeks of age, it will still need each of these vaccinations at first presentation and again 3-4 weeks later to gain adequate immunity.  One vaccine of any of these alone is not enough to be protective. A rabies vaccine is also necessary and is usually given at 16 week vaccination series.

What Are the Vaccinations

1) FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calici virus, Panleukopenia virus) – this is a 3-in-1 vaccination that provides protection from highly contagious viruses that result in upper respiratory tract and gastrointestinal infections, that when severe, may be life-threatening .   Kittens initially receive an FVRCP vaccine between 6 and 9 weeks of age, then re-vaccinated every 3-4 weeks until at least 16 weeks of age.  Unvaccinated kittens over 16 weeks of age and unvaccinated adult cats only need an initial FVRCP vaccine and an additional booster vaccine 3-4 weeks later.   Thereafter cats should be vaccinated every 2-3 years.

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, also known as a herpes virus, and Calici virus cause upper respiratory infections.  Symptoms may include sneezing, coughing, nasal and eye discharge, eye problems, oral ulcers and inflammation, fever, laryngitis, and loss of appetite.  Diagnostic tests are available but often a diagnosis is made based on clinical symptoms.  Treatment is often outpatient and may include topical eye medications and antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections.  More severe cases may require fluid therapy, nebulization, and hospitalization.

Panleukopenia vaccine – this vaccine is given to prevent infection with the feline parvo virus.  This virus results in severe gastrointestinal symtpoms and bone marrow disease.   Feline Panleukopenia  has also been refered to as Feline Distemper.  Symptoms in older kittens include loss of appetite, depression, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, white blood cell abnormalities and often death.  Pregnant cats may pass the virus to the unborn kittens and may result in abortion or brain development abnormalities and death in new borne kittens.   Diagnostic tests are available.   Treatment usually requires hospitalization with fluid therapy, antibiotics, medications to reduce vomiting, and nutritional care.

2) Leukemia vaccine – this vaccine is given to prevent infection with the leukemia virus.  The leukema virus is typically spread through bodily fluids, particulary saliva, of infected cats.  Most cats are exposed from direct contact either through grooming or during biting behavior, but can also be exposed by sharing a litter box with another infected cat.  The virus may also be transmitted to kittens when still in the uterus or nursing from an infected mother.  When exposure occurs, an infected cat may fight off the virus, become a non contagious carrier, or become actively infected and contagious.  Feline Leukemia Virus infection can cause immunosuppression, bone marrow disease, anemia, cancer and is often eventually fatal.   A newly acquired kitten or adult cat should always be tested for the leukemia virus, especially if being introduced to any other cats in the home.   The test is most often conducted in our hospitals and only requires a few drops of blood.  A positive test indicates the leukemia virus is in the blood stream and the cat is contagious.  Depending on when the cat was infected there is a chance the immune system may clear the virus so periodic retesting and additional diagnostics are often recommended.   All cats that test negative may then be vaccinated if deemed appropriate for age and lifestyle.  We recommend that all kittens age 12 weeks and up initially receive 2 leukemia vaccinations typically 3-4 weeks apart to provide adequate immunity.    This ensures that even indoor kittens are protected in the event they happen to escape from the house or are accidentally exposed to another contagious cat.  The kittens should then receive one additional booster 12 months later.  Thereafter the vaccine is only administered if exposure is still a concern.

5) Rabies vaccine  – this vaccine is given to prevent infection with the rabies virus.  The rabies virus is eventually transmitted through all bodily secretions/fluids of an infected mammal.  Rabies virus is most often found in wild life.  Commonly infected wild animals include:  bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes and coyotes .  The typical route of infection is through a bite wound that penetrates into another animal’s or human’s tissues.  Infection through contamination of bodily fluids into open wounds and mucous membranes such as the mouth rarely occurs.   Once the virus enters the body it may take days to many months, and even up to a year,  before symptoms begin.  Symptoms may include changes in behavior, subtle neurological symptoms, chewing or licking at the site of the initial bite wound, disorientation, seizures, weakness, paralysis, changes in the tone of the bark/meow, labored breathing, coma and death.  Syptoms occur over 3 to 7 days and is ALWAYS fatal.   There are no diagnostic tests for infected live animals and no effective treatment.  PREVENTION is the only option.

The Need for a Series of Vaccinations

When the kitten nurses on its mother, it receives a temporary form of immunity through its mother’s milk.  This immunity is in the form of proteins called antibodies.  For about 24-48 hours after birth, the puppy’s intestine absorbs these antibodies directly into the blood stream.  This immunity is of benefit during the first several weeks of the puppy’s life, but at some point, this immunity fails and the puppy is left with no additional immunity.  Each puppy must then be able to make its own long-lasting immunity.  Vaccinations are used for this purpose, to stimulate the immune system into generating it’s own protective amount of antibodies.   As long as the mother’s antibodies are present they will interfere with the vaccination’s ability to stimulate the puppy’s immune system.    Many factors determine when the puppy will be able to respond to the vaccinations.  These include the level of immunity in the mother dog, how much antibody has been absorbed, and the number of vaccines given to the puppy.  Therefore, a series of vaccinations is required to ensure that each puppy produces an appropriate amount of antibodies.  A single vaccination, even if effective, is not likely to stimulate the long-term immunity that is so important.