Hi, in continuation from my last blog, part 2 of this series will focus on SAH’s vaccination policy. I have tried to break it down so it’s very easy to understand and will give you a good overview of what you need and why. This blog is a little long, but very useful – I promise!
Our goal at SAH is to vaccinate as many pets as possible, to only vaccinate as often as necessary, to reduce the number vaccine reactions, and to vaccinate pets only for the diseases which they are at risk. Our protocol is based upon the risk factors of the individual pet and adheres to the current AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners) and AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) Vaccine Guidelines. At each visit, our staff takes the time to determine the risk factors are for your pet and will work with you to develop a comprehensive, preventative care plan just for your pet.
After carefully reviewing all the latest research and the different products on the market, we have selected the safest and most effective ones available for your pet and have chosen non-adjuvanted vaccines when available. Non-adjuvanted vaccines are less likely to cause local reactions and feline vaccine associated sarcomas. SAH’s protocol divides vaccines into 1 of 3 categories: core vaccines, non-core vaccines, and not recommended vaccines. Core vaccines are recommended to all pets because the disease is severe, contagious and/or has zoonotic potential (can pass to people). Non-core vaccines are recommended based on the individual risk factors of your pet.
SAH’s Vaccine Recommendations:
The only vaccine that is recommended for both dogs and cats and is also the only vaccination required by law. Rabies is almost 100% fatal and can pass from animals to pets or people. It is important to know that rabies is documented in our area. The most common carriers of rabies include raccoons, bats, rodents and feral cats. The rabies vaccination for dogs is either a 1 year or 3 year vaccine. For cats, we recommend the 1 year vaccine.
- FVRCP (Feline Distemper):
This combination vaccine includes feline herpesvirus, calicivirus and panleukopenia which are all very contagious and cause severe upper respiratory or gastrointestinal disease. The vaccine will protect your cat from developing these diseases or will reduce the severity of symptoms if they contract the disease. The FVRCP vaccine is given as a kitten series, boosted at 1 year and then given every 3 years in most cases.
- Feline Leukemia:
The initial series of this vaccine is recommended to all kittens since it is one of the most common causes of illness and death in cats and is passed from cat to cat. It is important for indoor cats to receive the initial vaccine so they will have some protection from the virus in the event they escape from the house, or if the family gets a new cat, or if the cats lifestyle changes. We do recommend an initial feline leukemia test for all kittens and an annual follow up for at risk cats or when a cat becomes ill. The initial series is 2 vaccines given 3 weeks apart, followed by a booster at 1 year. At risk cats (those that go outdoors or those exposed to other unvaccinated/outdoor cats) are recommended to get an annual booster.
- Canine Distemper/Parovirus/Hepatitis:
This vaccine includes a group of infectious diseases that cause gastrointestinal, respiratory, and neurologic symptoms in canines. These diseases are difficult to treat and often cause death. The parvovirus component of this vaccine is more common and certain breeds are more susceptible to it (Rottweilers, Dobermans). These diseases can be easily prevented with an appropriate vaccination schedule. This combination vaccination is recommended as a puppy series of 2 to 3 vaccines, an annual booster and then triennial vaccination (given every 3 years). It can also be given as a combination vaccine with the Leptospirosis vaccine.
This vaccine helps to prevent the disease commonly referred to as kennel cough in canines. This disease can actually be the result of several different bacteria and viruses that are quite contagious and cause inflammation of the upper respiratory tract (trachea and bronchi). This vaccine does not always prevent disease, but does decrease the severity of symptoms. Dogs should receive this vaccine if they board in a kennel, go to the groomers, frequent dog parks, meet new dogs on walks, or take part in various events (shows, hunt trials, agility, etc.). This vaccine is most commonly given by squirting the vaccine in to the nose; however there is also an injectable form. This is a single series vaccine that should be boosted every 6 months to a year depending on the risk factors for the pet. The injectable form requires a booster in 3 to 4 weeks.
This is a bacterial disease that is present in both urban and rural areas and affects both people and dogs. It is transmitted through the urine of an infected animal, (rats, mice, opossums, dogs, cows and raccoons). Spread of the disease occurs when dogs drink from stagnant or slow moving water such as puddles, ponds or streams where an infected animal has urinated. This disease can be very serious and can cause liver or kidney failure or even death. This vaccine is given in 2 or 3 series and should be boosted annually. It can be given as a combination vaccine with distemper/parvovirus/hepatitis.
- Rattlesnake Vaccine:
This is a non-core vaccination recommended for dogs that are at risk of Rattlesnake or Copperhead snake bite. Rattlesnakes can be found where dogs live, work and play throughout the continental United States. A rattlesnake bite results in serious injury or even death to thousands of dogs each year. The toxins in snake venom are very painful and can lead to serious consequences that can cause immediate and long term injury. The vaccine helps to create an immunity that will reduce the symptoms your dog exhibits to rattlesnake venom. The vaccination can help in cases of bites from the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake and may also provide protection against the venoms of Western Rattlesnake, Sidewinder, Timber Rattlesnake, Massasauga and the Copperhead. Even if your dog has received the rattlesnake vaccination, a veterinary evaluation of your dog after bite is necessary as soon as possible following a snakebite. Veterinarians can determine whether your dog will require additional treatment. Even bites by non-venomous snakes can lead to serious infections and antibiotics or other treatment may be needed. Two initial vaccinations are needed 3 to 4 weeks apart and then an annual booster vaccination is required.
- Canine Influenza Vaccine:
This is a non-core vaccination recommended for dogs that are at risk. High risk dogs include those in or adopted from a shelter, rescue center, breeding kennel or pet store, dogs that board in a kennel or frequent a doggie daycare, attend a group training, visit a groomer or dog parks, or participate in dog events or if you travel with your dog across state lines. This vaccination is required for boarding in our facility. If your dog is presently being vaccinated for canine cough (Bordetella), it is a likely candidate for the Flu vaccine. Canine influenza is a relatively new disease caused by a “flu” virus. It causes respiratory infection and typically only effects dogs. Canine influenza is very contagious, some dogs can be asymptomatic but shedding the virus. Just like the human flu, the clinical signs appear after the shedding. It is spread by direct contact (licking, nuzzling), through the air (coughing, sneezing) and via contaminated surfaces (such as a shared by or when a person picks up the virus on their hands, then pets a dog). Signs of canine influenza may be mild such as cough, low-grade fever, nasal discharge, lack of energy and loss of appetite. More severe signs can occur, such as pneumonia and high fever. It is difficult to diagnose and can be confused with Bordetella bronchiseptica (Canine Kennel cough) because the symptoms are similar. The canine flu vaccination has been clinically proven to significantly reduce the severity of influenza and the length of time that a dog is sick. The initial vaccination requires 2 doses given 2-4 weeks apart, followed by annual vaccination.
This is a tick-borne disease caused by a bacteria transmitted by the common deer tick, ixodes scapularis. Lyme disease is not prevalent in our area. If your dog does frequent at risk areas you may consider getting him or her vaccinated. Seneca Animal Hospital does not carry the vaccine at the present time.