Like people, pets need vaccines. And pet vaccinations, like those for humans, may sometimes require a booster to keep them effective. The best way to stay on schedule with vaccinations for your dog or cat is to follow the recommendations of a veterinarian you trust.
Chances are your vet’s suggestions will break down into two categories: core pet vaccines and non-core vaccines. Core pet vaccinations are those recommended for every pet, while non-core vaccines may be advised based on your pet’s lifestyle. For example, your vet may suggest certain non-core vaccinations if your cat or dog is outdoors only or boarded often.
Puppies and kittens need a series of vaccines to stimulate their immune system to build up antibodies against common diseases such as:
Distemper – Canine distemper is a highly contagious, often fatal disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and the nervous systems. Distemper can be spread through contact with bodily secretions (e.g. nasal discharge), but is most commonly spread through airborne transmission (e.g. sneezing and coughing).
Parvovirus – Canine parvovirus (CPV) is highly contagious and attacks the gastrointestinal tract of puppies and dogs. CPV is one of the most common infectious diseases of dogs. Death can occur as early as 2 days after the onset of illness. CPV is one of the most resistant viruses to infect dogs and can remain viable in the environment for extended periods of time. CPV is transmitted by direct contact and contact with contaminated feces, environments, or people. The virus also spreads through contaminated surfaces, food and water bowls, collars, leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who touch a CPV–infected dog.
Rhinotracheitis – Rhinotracheitis is a respiratory disease caused by feline herpesvirus-1. “Rhinotracheitis” means inflammation of the nose and windpipe, or trachea. Herpesvirus-1 also affects the reproductive tract and can cause problems during pregnancy. Feline herpesvirus type 1 is responsible for 80% to 90% of infectious feline upper respiratory diseases. Feline rhinotracheitis is spread between cats through direct contact with the eyes or nose of an infected cat or through contaminated objects, such as food and water bowls.
Panleukopenia – Panleukopenia (sometimes called feline distemper) is a highly contagious, severe infection that causes gastrointestinal, immune system, and nervous system disease. “Panleukopenia” means a decrease in the number of white blood cells and is caused by a feline parvovirus that is very similar to the virus that causes parvovirus in dogs. Feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) can survive at room temperature for up to 1 year and is persistent in the environment. It can be transmitted directly between cats and through contact with objects such as shared food and water bowls, grooming items, etc. Infected pregnant queens can also pass FPV to their kittens. Humans can transmit FPV to cats through contact with hands, clothing, or shoes.
Rabies – Rabies attacks the nervous system, with fatal results once clinical signs appear. Rabies is usually spread through saliva introduced into tissue from the bite of a rabid animal. It can also be spread if infected saliva enters the body through a cut or comes in contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth