Personalizing Pet Vaccinations
Your pet is unique, and their level of risk for certain diseases isn’t the same as other pets. They deserve a vaccination protocol that meets their needs and protects them from the diseases with which they’re like to come into contact. With every vaccine schedule, we abide by AAHA guidelines regarding vaccine administration to minimize the risk of over-vaccination. We also can perform titer testing for certain diseases. Puppies and kittens will begin their vaccinations between 6-8 weeks of age and continue the series through their first year of life. Afterward, most vaccines require boosters on either a yearly or triennial basis. At Saratoga Veterinary Hospital, our veterinarians work with you to develop a personalized pet vaccination protocol.
While every pet will have a custom vaccine protocol, there are some diseases that are extremely prevalent. The following diseases are considered “core” vaccinations and we highly recommend them for the safety and health of every pet!
- Rabies – Rabies is a fatal viral infection spread between mammals. Raccoons, foxes, and bats are the most common transmitters of the disease. Symptoms include foaming at the mouth, disorientation, fever, and aggression or unnatural mildness. Due to it’s deadly and contagious nature, all pets are required by law in New York to be up-to-date on the vaccine.
- Canine distemper – Distemper is a viral infection that affects the respiratory system, causing nasal and eye discharge, fever, lethargy, coughing, and vomiting. If left untreated, it begins to affect the nervous system causing head tilt, twitching, convulsions, and seizures.
- Parvovirus – This disease is highly contagious and is a great danger to puppies, senior dogs, and other compromised pets who are not vaccinated. Parvo symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, bloating, fever or hypothermia, vomiting, and often bloody diarrhea. Death can occur within 48-72 hours of clinical signs.
- Panleukopenia – Sometimes called feline distemper or feline parvo, panleukopenia used to be a leading cause of death in cats, but with the prevalence of vaccines, it is becoming far less common. This virus causes loss of appetite, high fever, nasal discharge, dehydration, vomiting, and severe diarrhea.
Many of these diseases are covered in combination vaccines that protect your pet from other dangerous diseases as well. They include:
- DHPP (canine distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza), administered every 3 years, after the initial series
- FVRCP (feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia), administered every 3 years after the initial series
- Rabies vaccines are administered as a single vaccine. We have a 3-year vaccine for dogs and a 1-year vaccine for cats.
Beyond the core vaccinations, there are noncore or “lifestyle” vaccines that protect pets from certain diseases that they are more likely to encounter according to their lifestyle. Boosters for these vaccines are needed on an annual basis after the initial series, except for Bordetella, which is needed every 6 months.
These vaccines include:
- Lyme disease – a dog vaccine for those who often hike in wooded, tick-infested areas with their owners
- Leptospirosis – a dog vaccine for those who are often outdoors and are more likely to come in contact with the leptospirosis bacteria
- Bordetella (“kennel cough”) – a dog vaccine for those who frequently board, are groomed, go to dog parks or participate in group training classes
- Canine influenza – for dogs who are frequently in the company of other dogs; canine flu is highly contagious
- Feline leukemia – a cat vaccine for outdoor cats only