Proper vaccination is a crucial step to preventing contagious, potentially life-threatening diseases. It is far easier to vaccinate to prevent diseases, such as distemper or parvovirus, than it is to try to treat the illnesses. As a matter of fact, several diseases that are easily preventable with proper vaccination cannot be successfully treated and can kill beloved pets. This is often the situation with diseases such as feline leukemia, distemper, and even in many cases of parvovirus. It is very important to make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are kept current and that you discuss vaccinations with the doctors, so that your pet can receive the proper vaccines at the proper intervals. Furthermore, rabies is a deadly, zoonotic (contagious to humans) viral disease and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires that all dogs, cats, and ferrets be regularly vaccinated against it.
Not every pet needs every vaccination, but all dogs, cats, and ferrets need some vaccinations. The veterinarians will examine your pets and make recommendations as to the proper vaccination protocol for your individual pets. This decision will be based on a variety of factors, including your pet’s age, health, prior vaccination, potential exposure to diseases, and lifestyle. So a ten year old dog that never leaves the house will require a different vaccine protocol than a two year old show dog. And an indoor cat may require different vaccines than one that lives outside. In addition, all kittens, puppies, and young ferrets must receive a series of vaccines to make sure they are adequately protected. Once your pet is an adult, your pet may be given some vaccines annually and others at longer intervals. Some of the vaccines recommended in our area include:
- Lyme disease
- Kennel cough (Bordetella)
- Distemper (feline panleukopenia)
- Feline rhinotracheitis
- Feline calicivirus
- Feline leukemia
Old Derby Animal Hospital requires that all pets be examined prior to receiving vaccinations in order to assure a proper veterinarian-client-patient relationship. This ensures that your pet is as healthy as possible, so the vaccines will work correctly. Pets with illnesses, organ problems, or parasites may not be able to respond properly to the vaccines and the vaccines may not work as well as needed. The veterinarian may suggest fecal examinations, blood screening, or other laboratory tests to make sure that your pet is in tiptop shape before being vaccinated.
Many of the vaccines are given as combination injections. So do not be surprised to find that your pet is vaccinated against five or even six contagious illnesses with only one injection! Additionally, some vaccines, such as kennel cough, do not always require an injection. Instead, the vaccine may be simply administered through painless nose drops. Finally, the doctor will let you know if your pet requires boosters of the vaccines. This is a requirement in young pets, as they receive periodic booster injections until they are at least 16 weeks old. Boosters are also often needed for older pets with no history of vaccinations. So, stray pets may need two injections, approximately 3-4 weeks apart, to ensure proper immunity.
The vaccine needs of adult pets will vary and the doctor will design an individualized vaccine booster program to meet your pet’s needs. Some pets will need some vaccines every year, some may have blood tests to check their immunity levels, and some will only need vaccines every three years. The veterinarians understand that you may have many questions about the proper vaccines for your pet. We look forward to answering any questions and developing a vaccine schedule that meets your pet’s unique needs.