Keeping your pet vaccinated is the best way to help prevent your pet from becoming ill against many common viral and bacterial diseases. Many of the diseases we vaccinate against are life-threatening and very costly to treat, while others pose a public health risk to humans such as Rabies and Leptospirosis. Vaccination is one of the most reliable and cost-effective methods available to pet owners to keep their animals healthy.
A special note about Rabies: Rabies is a fatal viral disease that infects the brains of mammals, including humans. It is Connecticut state law that all cats (including indoor cats) and dogs are kept up to date with their Rabies vaccinations, and is a requirement to obtain a dog license from the town hall. Failure to comply with this law may result in the euthanasia of your animal or an expensive 6-month quarantine in a state facility. Dogs and cats are first vaccinated for Rabies at 12 weeks of age. Dogs are given a second rabies vaccine around 1 year of age, and then given every 3 years thereafter. Cats are also given a second rabies vaccine around 1 year of age, and then are either given annually (with a preservative-free vaccine) or every three years (preservative included). Please call our office if you have questions regarding the difference between these vaccines.
Vaccinations available for dogs in addition to Rabies:
- Canine Distemper: This, along with Rabies, is a “core” vaccine – meaning that all dogs should be vaccinated with the canine distemper vaccine. Canine distemper covers four different viruses: canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus, infectious canine hepatitis, and canine parainfluenza virus. Canine distemper virus is a fatal virus that affects a large number of body systems – including the neurological, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems. Canine parvovirus is a common, highly contagious and potentially fatal intestinal virus that causes bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Infectious canine hepatitis is also a potentially fatal disease that affects the liver, spleen, kidneys, and lungs. Canine parainfluenza is an infectious respiratory disease that causes coughing, lethargy, fever, and eye and nose discharge. Puppies are vaccinated at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age, again at a year, and then every 3 years after that.
- Bordetella or Kennel Cough: This vaccine is commonly required by groomers, doggie daycares, and boarding facilities, and we recommend that any dogs that go to these facilities or other areas where they are around a lot of other dogs (obedience classes, agility, dog parks) are vaccinated against kennel cough. Although this is usually not fatal, it does cause a severe cough and can make your pet very ill.
- Lyme Disease: Any place where ticks are, lyme disease is. We recommend that every dog be vaccinated against Lyme disease, since even pets kept exclusively indoors can be exposed to ticks coming in on clothing and shoes. The most common symptoms of Lyme disease are fever and joint pain, although it can progress to kidney failure and other complications if left untreated.
- Leptospirosis: Lepto is a bacteria that is found commonly in rodent urine (squirrels, mice, etc.) Dogs most at risk are swimmers – although Lepto can also be present in puddles, grass and dirt. It is a potentially fatal disease that affects the kidneys and the liver
Vaccinations for cats in addition to Rabies:
- Feline Distemper: This, along with rabies, is a “core” vaccine – meaning that all cats (including indoor cats) should be vaccinated with the feline distemper vaccine. This vaccine will help protect your cat against three viruses: feline panleukopenia (or feline parvovirus), feline viral rhinotracheitis (or feline herpes), and feline calicivirus. Feline panleukopenia is a highly contagious, often fatal disease of cats that causes fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Feline viral rhinotracheitis and feline calicivirus are both respiratory viruses that can cause eye and nasal discharge, sneezing, mouth ulcers, and inflammation of the upper respiratory tract.
- Feline Leukemia: Feline leukemia virus is a disease that is passed from cat to cat through close contact with saliva – it can be transferred by grooming and sharing water and food bowls. We test all kittens and stray cats for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus (feline aids) if they have not been tested previously. We recommend that all kittens be vaccinated for feline leukemia and then boostered at a year of age. If the cat remains indoors, we usually discontinue vaccinating; outdoor cats it is an absolute must to have them vaccinated every year.