Vaccinations can be a very confusing topic because there are so many different vaccines available and each pet will have its own needs for which vaccinations it should receive. If you have any questions on what is best for you pet, please call us. We will be happy to help you tailor a vaccination schedule to your pets needs and risk level.

What is a Vaccine

A vaccine or immunization is prepared by taking a virus that causes a disease, killing it, and mixing pieces of it in solution to inject into a pet. The pieces of virus can not cause illness because they are just fragments, they are not the whole virus. The body responds just like it would if the pet was infected with the disease. The immune system attacks the fragments and produces antibodies. This is why some pets, especially young ones, feel sick for 12-24 hours after a vaccine, there body believes it is fighting off a disease. Once the antibodies are made the body stores them. So that the next time this virus attacks the antibodies are all ready to be released and start killing the virus faster. Vaccines DO NOT prevent an animal from becoming infected with a disease, they help the body prepare to fight the disease faster so that the pet does not show visible signs of infection.

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Vaccination Guarantee

There are many things that can cause a vaccination not to work. If the vaccine is shipped improperly, stored improperly, given in the wrong amount or at the wrong time, if the pet is sick at the time of the vaccination, or if the pet receives certain other drugs that can deactivate the vaccine, the vaccine will fail and the pet will not be protected from disease. Veterinarians are trained in the handling and storage of vaccines. If a vaccine appears to be shipped improperly it is returned to manufacture and never used. Pets are also evaluated when the vaccine is given to ensure they are healthy enough to receive the vaccine.

Manufactures of vaccines will guarantee its effectiveness when it is given by a veterinarian according to the recommended vaccination schedule. For example if your puppy is vaccinated for parvo, by a veterinarian, at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age and becomes sick at 18 weeks of age with parvo, the manufacture will cover the entire cost of treatment. If the vaccines are purchased at a feed store and given by the or owner instead of a veterinarian and the puppy becomes sick the manufacture will not cover the cost because the manufacture does not know if the vaccine was stored, handled or administered incorrectly.

If you choose to give your own vaccinations it is important to save the label off the vaccine vile, and Write Down:

  1. Where you bought the vaccine
  2. How you stored it until you gave it to your pet
  3. The date you gave the vaccine
  4. If your pet was eating and acting normally the day you gave the vaccine
  5. How your pet acted for 24 hours after giving the vaccine

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Vaccinations in Series

Puppies and Kittens receive their initial immunity from their mothers. The amount of immunity or protection that each puppy or kitten receives depends on many factors; how well mom was vaccinated, how long ago was the last vaccinations, how much colostrum or "first milk" did the puppy/kitten receive, etc. The immunity that mom gives the puppies decreases with age. Some puppies and kittens are only protected by mom until 8-10 weeks of age, others have an immunity that lasts until they are 12-14 weeks of age. This immunity from mom interferes with or prevents the vaccinations from protecting the puppy or kitten. Since we don't know for each individual puppy how long the immunity they got from mom will last, we must give the vaccinations in a series while they are young. We start the vaccinations at 8 weeks of age, and repeat the vaccination every 3-4 weeks while the puppy or kitten is growing, until the puppy is 21 weeks of age, or the kitten is 14 weeks of age. This ensures that the puppy or kitten is protected by either the immunity they got from mom or the vaccination, while it is growing. The last vaccinations in the series lasts for 1 year.

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Feline Vaccinations

There are four vaccinations available for cats;
  1. The Upper Respiratory and Distemper Vaccination, FVRCP
  2. The Feline Leukemia Vaccination, FeLV
  3. The Feline Infectious Peritonitis Vaccination, FIP
  4. The Rabies Vaccination

This vaccine is sometimes called a 3-way vaccine because it protects against 3 different viruses. Most of you have seen cats with runny noses, white or green discharge from the eyes, and sneezing. This is a common sight in kittens and many adult stray cats. There can be several causes but the most common is an upper respiratory virus that attacks cats, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR), a herpesvirus. This virus can change every few years, just like the human cold virus. Some strains are stronger or more serious then others. This virus can travel through the air or be spread on clothing. We strongly recommend ALL cats be vaccinated for this virus because it spreads so easily, and some strains can develop into pneumonia, require hospitalization or be fatal. We recommend vaccinating kittens at 8-10 weeks of age and again at 12-14 weeks of age, against this virus. We recommend vaccinating all adult cats against this virus every year.

The "C" in FVRCP is for Chlamydia, a bacterial infection that causes swelling, and redness of eyes. This bacterial infection is often seen infecting cats along with the feline rhinotracheaitis virus.

The "P" in FVRCP stand for Panleukopenia, this is the technical name for feline distemper. This disease is caused by a virus similar to the one that causes parvo in dog and results in similar signs of vomiting and diarrhea. This disease is highly contagious and often fatal. The virus is widespread and almost all cats are exposed to it within their first year of life. The virus is spread in urine and feces of infected animals and remains in the environment to infect the next cat that smells the urine or feces. Those that are not protected by vaccination become extremely sick.

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Feline Leukemia is a fatal disease in cats that there is currently no treatment for. It can be spread between cats by fighting, mating, or prolonged daily contact. Feline Leukemia is endemic in the stray cat population in this area. If your cat goes outside, it should be protected with this vaccination. Many owners of indoor cats opt to have them vaccinated in case they escape from the house. We recommend testing all new cats/kittens before introducing them to other cats you have at home. We also recommend testing outdoor cats once a year, especially if they receive cat bites or develop abscesses. We recommend testing and vaccinating kittens at 10 weeks of age, and a booster vaccine is required at 13-14 weeks of age. All at risk (outdoor) cats should be vaccinated every year. Learn more about FeLV here

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FIP is another fatal disease of cats. There is a vaccine developed for this disease, but the efficacy of the vaccine is still greatly debated. We do not carry this vaccination since we do not feel it is effective or beneficial to your cat to receive it. Learn more about FIP here

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Canine Vaccinations

There are several vaccinations available for dogs;
  1. The Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, and Corona Vaccination, DHLPPC
  2. The Bordatella Vaccination
  3. The Lyme Vaccination
  4. The Rabies Vaccination

This vaccine may be called a 5-Way, 6-Way, or 7-Way vaccine depending on how many viruses it covers. Canine Distemper is a highly contagious viral infection that is extremely fatal especially to young puppies under 6 months of age. Approximately 80% of infected puppies die from the infection. The virus is spread through the air and respiratory system of infected dogs as well as urine and feces. Initially a dog develops a fever, loss of appetite and mild inflammation. As the disease progresses, dogs develop discharge from the eyes and nose, diarrhea, and pneumonia. Eventually neurological problems develop causing a disoriented walk, muscle tremors, paralysis, and seizures. Dogs that survive often have long term side affects including permanent nerve damage, loss or damaged sight and/or smell, loss of enamel on the teeth, and thickened, hardened overgrown pads.

Hepatitis is a contagious bacterial infection of the liver. The disease can be spread by contaminated objects, fleas, ticks or mosquitoes. As the liver is damaged by the disease, the dog develops vomiting, loss of appetite, and becomes jaundice.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease spread by rodents and is also found around standing water, that causes kidney damage or failure. This disease is CONTAGIOUS TO HUMANS, and humans can catch the disease from the urine of an infected dog. This bacteria is spreading and becoming more prevalent. We recommend vaccination to all dogs for the health of the dog and its owner. This vaccination can cause an allergic reaction in many young small breed dogs, for this reason we do not give this vaccination to any puppy under 15 weeks of age. As the dogs become older they tolerate the vaccination better and are less likely to develop an allergic reaction to it. This disease is fatal in 15-20% of infected dogs.

Parainfluenza is a virus that is often found as one of many viruses and bacteria that affect the respiratory system, often in a disease known as Kennel Cough. This virus spreads through the cough and nasal secretions of infected dogs. Vaccination for Parainfluenza alone will not prevent Kennel Cough, but is often effective if it is combined with a Bordatella Vaccine.

Parvovirus is a very hearty virus, it is spread in the feces from an infected dog. Once on the ground the virus can live for up to SIX YEARS. Even though the feces has been washed away, the virus is still their. All another dog has to do is walk across the area. The virus will cling to the dogs feet, and when the dog licks its paws, invade the dogs stomach and intestines causing projectile vomiting, and severe bloody diarrhea as it eats away at the intestinal lining. The virus can also travel on the shoes, clothing and hands of people who have petted infected dogs. This virus is the primary reason that puppies should be kept indoors and away from visitors and any public areas until they have completed their complete series of vaccinations. If you have had a dog in your home with parvo, any unvaccinated puppies or dogs that you bring home in the future can become infected from the virus in your yard! This virus is fatal most puppies that become infected with the virus will die. Treatment for parvovirus often averages $1000-$1500!

Corona virus causes mild to moderate diarrhea. When it infects sick dogs or puppies it can often become debilitating. It is estimated that at least 50% of viral caused diarrhea in the environment is infected with both Parvovirus and Coronavirus. It is estimated that over 90% of all dogs have had exposure to Coronavirus at one time or another.

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Bordatella is one component of Kennel Cough. Kennel Cough causes a dry non productive cough in dogs. It is highly contagious and spreads through the air. Most dog pounds are overrun with the bacteria. Dogs that go to boarding kennels, dog parks, dog shows, doggy day care, or grooming facilities need this vaccination. Because this infections spreads so easily, even dogs that are at home in their yard can catch the bacteria if an infected dog runs up to the fence. This vaccination can be given as an injection or as drops into the nose. We use the drops in the nose, because the virus enters the body through the nose to cause infection. By giving the vaccine in the nose we stimulate antibodies in the area to provide better protection. We also recommend this vaccination every 6 months in dogs that are at increased exposure such as those that are boarded or groomed regularly.

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Lyme Disease is one of several diseases spread by ticks. It causes fever, lameness, and loss of appetite in dogs. Dogs that go camping or live in areas with large numbers of ticks should be vaccinated for Lyme disease.

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Rabies Vaccination

Rabies vaccination is required in order to license your dog. Rabies vaccination is required in dogs by county/state law, and is recommended for cats. In this state Rabies is primarily found in the bat population. Because bats can enter inside of houses, we recommend rabies vaccination for all cats, even if they remain in doors. Currently the number of cats that have tested positive for Rabies in the United States, exceeds the number of dogs that have tested positive. Rabies is a disease that can spread from pets to owners. If your pet bites someone and is not current on rabies vaccination, the county can decide to remove the pet and confine it for 10 days to ensure it does not develop any signs of rabies, and you will be charged for the pets care during this time. The first rabies vaccination lasts for 1 year and is normally given at 6 months of age when your pet is spayed or neutered. After that, the vaccination only needs to be boosted every 3 years.

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Vaccination Risks

There are some risks to vaccinations

Fever, Sluggishness, Pain at vaccination site
  • These are the most common side affects. They most often affect young puppies getting their first or second vaccination. With each vaccination this side affect becomes less pronounced and usually disappears completely with age. These side affects last approximately 24 hours, and then disappear completely. It is best just to let your pet rest undisturbed during this time, and keep food and water near by.
  • Allergic Reaction
  • An allergic reaction can occur from minutes to up to 48 hours after the vaccination. This reaction involves itching, swelling of the face and lips, welts or raised areas over the head and back. It can progress to vomiting or difficulty in breathing.
  • In a two year study, conducted by George Moore, DVM, PhD, Purdue University, an allergic vaccination reaction occurred approximate .39% of the time. That is less then 1/2 of 1%! The most severe and dangerous form of an allergic reaction, an anaphalactic reaction occurs .007% of the time. Getting more then one vaccine injection at a time raised the risk of an allergic reaction by almost 24%. In addition Dachshund, Pug, Boston Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, and Chihuahuas were most likely to experience an allergic reaction.
  • Allergic reactions are treatable with a combination of antihistamines, steroids, and epinephrine and rarely result in death, less then .0003% of the time!
  • Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma
  • This is a dangerous cancerous tumor that can form in cats that have or have not been vaccinated. In recent year and increased occurrence of this tumor has been noticed in areas of the body where cats have received vaccinations. It is estimated that a vaccine can cause this tumor approximately .05% of the time.

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    The Following Table Summarize the Risks of Disease and Vaccinations:

    DiseaseFrequency RateMortality RateTreatment Cost
    Feline Rhinotracheitis $60-$150
    Feline Distemper 80%$300-%500
    Leptosporosis 15-20%$500-$700
    Vaccine ReactionFrequency RateMortality RateTreatment Cost
    Fever, Sluggishness0%$0
    Allergic Reaction.39%.0003%$25-$100