Vaccines are a very important part of preventative medicine. They help your pet to build immunity to certain diseases.
The definition of a vaccine is “a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease.” (taken from Webster dictionary). Or, another way to say it is – a way of having the body develop an immune response to a certain disease without actually having the pet get sick with it. When we give a booster vaccine, it provides an early reminder to the immune system. The immune system will then create the strongest, fastest response that it can to provide good immunity for your pet in the future. Vaccinations are hugely important in the prevention of disease, and prevention is the best medicine. It is very important to receive the booster vaccine in the appropriate time frame for your pet to develop their full immune response to the vaccine. Generally this booster is 3-4 weeks from the initial one. Without that booster vaccine, your pet will never truly be fully vaccinated against that disease.
How many boosters does my pet need? Depending on how old your pet is, they may need anywhere from 2-3 boosters after the initial vaccine. A vaccine series is generally started when the pet is between 6-8 weeks old and then they receive vaccines every 3-4 weeks thereafter until they reach 16 weeks of age. If they start their series after 12 weeks old, they only receive a series of 2 vaccines before they are fully immune to the disease. Most vaccines are yearly once the initial series is done, although certain vaccines are known to hold their immunity longer and therefore may only need to be boostered every 3 years. Bordetella (kennel cough) for dogs is the one exception to that yearly rule. Recent studies show that its’ effectiveness wears off after about 6 months, so on that vaccine we recommend bi-yearly vaccinations.
Why do puppies and kittens needs so many vaccines? Just like people, dogs receive a certain degree of immunity (known as maternal immunity) that is passed from their mothers at birth and also shortly thereafter through her milk. Vaccinations cannot effectively stimulate the puppy’s immune system until this maternal immunity wears off. Because maternal immunity declines slowly over time, puppies should be vaccinated every 3 to 4 weeks until they are about 4 months old. This ensures that the puppy receives an effective dose of vaccine soon after maternal protection is gone. Restricting access to unvaccinated dogs until the full series of vaccinations has been given is important to avoid disease. (ref. merckmanuals.com)
Most common vaccines:
DA2PP Vaccine includes:
Distemper virus– a highly contagious virus that is spread by respiratory secretions (sneezing and coughing) causing severe respiratory and neurologic disease. This disease can be deadly, and vaccinations create a strong immunity and are very important to prevent the disease.
Adenovirus (hepatitis virus)- a virus that causes a disease called infectious canine hepatitis. This virus is also spread by secretions from the mouth and nose. This virus attacks many organs in the body, primarily the liver and kidneys. This disease can be deadly, and vaccinations create a strong immunity and are very important to prevent the disease.
Parainfluenza– A virus spread by respiratory secretions causing flu-like signs and sickness.
Parvo virus- a highly contagious, stable virus that is spread by fecal-oral route. This means any place an infected dog defecates can store this virus. When another dog sniffs or walks through an infected area, they can pick up the virus. The virus can also be spread by people and insects. This virus causes SEVERE illness, and can be deadly. Common signs include vomiting, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, severe lethargy (weakness), loss of appetite and death. Vaccinations create a strong immunity and are very important to prevent the disease.
Rabies – Rabies is an acute viral infection of the nervous system that mainly affects carnivores and bats, although it can affect any mammal. It is caused by the rabies virus. Once clinical signs appear, it is fatal. Rabies is found throughout the world, although a few countries are declared rabies-free due to successful elimination standards. Islands that have a strict quarantine program in effect are often rabies-free. In North America and Europe, rabies has been mostly eliminated in domestic dogs, although it affects wildlife. Transmission is almost always by the bite of an infected animal, when the saliva containing the rabies virus is introduced into the body. The virus can be in the body for weeks before signs develop. Most cases in dogs develop within 21 to 80 days after exposure, but the incubation period may be considerably shorter or longer.
Other Vaccines available:
Bordetella bronchiseptica – This is a highly contagious bacteria that is a key component in an upper respiratory tract infection, most commonly called kennel cough. It is spread in respiratory secretions, and the most common sign is coughing. It can also cause nasal discharge, lethargy, and fever.
Leptospirosis– Leptospirosis is a disease caused by bacteria in the genus Leptospira; there are roughly 17 species. Because the organisms survive in surface waters (such as swamps, streams, and rivers) for extended periods, the disease is often waterborne. Dogs contract leptospirosis by direct contact with infected urine or contaminated water sources, through bite wounds, by eating infected tissue, or exposure during birth. Once in the body, leptospires spread rapidly via the lymph system to the bloodstream and then to all tissues. If the animal mounts an immune response and survives, leptospires will be cleared from most organs and the bloodstream. However, the infection persists in sites hidden from the immune system; the most common hidden site is the kidneys. Persistence in the kidneys results in a carrier state; the infected animal may shed leptospires in the urine for at least a year.
Lyme Disease– This disease is caused by a spirochete called Borrelia burgdorferi, and is passed to animals and people by ticks. The disease most commonly causes swollen joints, pain, limping, fever, lethargy, and decreased appetite. In severe cases it can cause un-reversible kidney damage. This is also why if a pet is found to be positive on our annual in house test, we will treat even if they are not showing symptoms. This disease is very common in our area and is highly recommended for all dogs to receive.
Canine Influenza – Canine influenza virus (CIV) causes a respiratory infection in dogs that is often referred to as canine influenza. CIV is a relatively new virus, so almost all dogs are susceptible to infection when they are newly exposed because they have not built up natural immunity. Most dogs that develop CIV infection have a mild illness, but some dogs get very sick and require treatment. Because most dogs are naive to the virus, virtually every naive dog exposed will become infected. Clinical signs associated with CIV can be confused with kennel cough making accurate diagnosis difficult.
Most common Vaccines
Rhinotracheitis and calici virus– These are two highly contagious, and common causes of upper respiratory infections in cats.
Panleukopenia – This virus is highly contagious, and is spread in many bodily fluids. It is passed by direct contact with infected animals, or anywhere an infected animal has been. This virus is deadly and causes many signs including birth defects, lethargy, decreased white cell production, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, fever, and more. Not all infected cats develop clinical signs, which mean they can be carriers. Vaccination creates a strong immunity and is very important to prevent the disease.
Rabies– Rabies is an acute viral infection of the nervous system that mainly affects carnivores and bats, although it can affect any mammal. It is caused by the rabies virus. Once clinical signs appear, it is fatal. Rabies is found throughout the world, although a few countries are declared rabies-free due to successful elimination standards. Islands that have a strict quarantine program in effect are often rabies-free. In North America and Europe, rabies has been mostly eliminated in domestic dogs, although it affects wildlife. Transmission is almost always by the bite of an infected animal, when the saliva containing the rabies virus is introduced into the body. The virus can be in the body for weeks before signs develop. Most cases in dogs develop within 21 to 80 days after exposure, but the incubation period may be considerably shorter or longer.
Other available Vaccine:
Feline Leukemia – This is a virus] that can be passed through the saliva of an infected cat, so cats that fight or share bowls with an infected cat can develop the disease. This is why outdoor cats (unneutered males especially) are at a higher risk of contracting the disease and should be vaccinated. It can also be passed from mother to kitten. Some cats are carriers, meaning they can pass the disease but are not yet sick. This disease attacks many different cell types in a cats body, causing a weak immune system and neoplastic (cancer) disease. Common signs include weight loss, fever, swollen lymph nodes, fluid in the chest, and much more. This is also why it is highly recommended to test a cat or kitten at its’ first vet. visit. That way it can be found early and if there are other cats in the household it can be kept from being passed onto them.