Do I Really Need to Vaccinate My Pet?

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Do I Really Need to Vaccinate My Pet?

Whether you are a new or seasoned pet owner, you may wonder how often you really need to vaccinate your pet. Many states have laws requiring certain vaccinations (like rabies) on a particular schedule but, beyond that, what is really necessary?

Vaccines are the most effective way to protect your pet from infectious disease. When your pet receives a vaccine, the body recognizes the antigen (foreign substance), and responds to it by creating antibodies. These antibodies help your pet’s immune system fight off future exposure to viruses and bacteria more efficiently.

Pet vaccines are classified into two groups: core and non-core. Core vaccines are those most recommended by veterinarians in the early stages of your dog or cat’s life (typically the first year), because they have immature immune systems that cannot fight off disease as easily as older animals. They treat widespread and easily transferred diseases that are typically hard to treat if contracted. It is important to know how long each vaccine is effective, so they can be administered as often as necessary (typically one or three years apart). Core vaccines include:

For both dogs and cats:

  • Rabies– a vaccine that is required in almost all states. Rabies is a viral illness generally transmitted by a bite from an infected animal. It is one of the few that can be passed from animal to human, and can have debilitating and lethal effects.

For dogs

    • Distemper– protects your canine from Distemper, Hepatitis, Adenovirus 2, Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza.
  • Bordetella– this is given to prevent Canine Cough, a highly contagious airborne illness resulting in a dry, hacking cough that can last for many weeks.
  • Canine Influenza Virus– A fairly new respiratory illness that is highly contagious. Most dogs have not been exposed to it and, therefore, have not built up the necessary antibodies.

For cats

  • FVRCP– Feline distemper presents as a respiratory infection, followed by a gastrointestinal infection, and can affect the nervous system and eyes.

Non-core vaccines are given depending on how prevalent a disease is in your area, or whether your pet is predisposed to certain conditions. Your vet will be able to determine which non-core vaccines, if any, are necessary. Non-core vaccines include:

For dogs:

  • Lyme Disease– transmitted by deer ticks. Your vet may recommend this as an annual vaccine if your pet is exposed to environments with a high population of whitetail deer.
  • Leptospirosis– most commonly found in areas where wildlife is present, such as ponds. Leptovirus is passed through exposure to bodily fluids and tissue of infected animals.

For cats:

  • Leukemia– Feline Leukemia Virus is highly contagious, and easily transferred through casual contact such as grooming and sharing feeding bowls with an infected cat. Indoor and indoor/outdoor cats are most susceptible.

Quality Pet Care in Potomac, MD

Falls Road Veterinary Hospital has been serving Potomac, Maryland, and surrounding areas since 1988. We offer a wide range of services including vaccinations, wellness exams, grooming, dentistry, and emergency care. We also have a fully stocked on-site pet pharmacy for your prescription needs. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!

9 Responses

  1. My sister has wanted to get a cat since she was a kid, but she has refrained from getting one because she is worried about the responsibility of taking care of the animal if it gets sick. I really appreciate your point about vaccines being an effective way to protect a pet from infectious diseases. I don’t think my sister knows that there are vaccines that you can get from animals as well as humans; I will be sure to tell her about this so she can hopefully find some peace of mind about adopting a cat.

  2. My sister wants to make sure that her dog is properly vaccinated for safety and avoid disease. It was explained here that vaccinations can help prevent rabies and Lyme disease. Furthermore, it’s recommended to go to trusted professionals when considering animal vaccinations.

  3. I had no idea that there were so many types of vaccines. It is a good idea that you can get this taken care of at a vet hospital. My sister might like knowing that a non-core vaccine is meant for your area.

  4. I’m thinking of taking my pet to a veterinarian to vaccinate him. Thanks for mentioning that the rabies vaccine is required in almost all states so I’ll be sure to let him have it. Since I don’t want him to get canine influenza virus, I’ll be sure to let the veterinarian I select give him one as well.

  5. Amy Winters says:

    Thank you for pointing out that there are core vaccinations and these are to help puppies build their immune systems in early life. My daughter has been asking for a puppy. It’s good to know that we can help prevent the spread of disease through vaccinations.

  6. My sister will be going on a long vacation and she wants to make sure that her pet will be safe and will not get sick. It was explained here that she should have her pet vaccinated for rabies and Lyme disease. Furthermore, it’s recommended to consult experts when in need of pet boarding services.

  7. I’m a new pet owner. I think I will take my dog to a veterinarian to get some pet vaccines. Thanks for mentioning that I should start with core vaccines so that my dog will stay healthy.

  8. I wanted to thank you for writing about vaccinations for pets. It’s nice to know that dogs should get a Bordetella vaccination, especially because it’s highly contagious. I’m kind of interested to learn how often you should get these vaccines or if it could depend on the breed of dog or how old they are.

  9. Once I get my new dog, I am for sure taking them to get their vaccinations. That way, I can be sure they’ll be protected from certain diseases. As you said, it would be best to have it done by a professional as they would know what shots my dog would need.

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