Preventive Health Care Vaccinations for Your Pet

Vaccinations

Vaccinations

As medical professionals, we know it is far easier to vaccinate to prevent diseases than it is to try to treat the illnesses. While not every pet needs every vaccination, all dogs and cats need some vaccinations. Our veterinarians will examine your pet and make recommendations as to the proper vaccination protocol based on a variety of factors, including your petís age, health, prior vaccination, potential exposure to diseases, and lifestyle.

To be certain your pet is as healthy as possible, Ballston Animal Hospital requires a physical examination prior to receiving vaccinations. Pets with illnesses, organ problems, or parasites may not be able to respond properly to the vaccines. Vaccinations could even be harmful to an animal with existing health problems. The veterinarian may suggest fecal examinations, blood screening, or other laboratory tests to make sure your pet is well enough to be vaccinated.

In addition, all kittens and puppies should receive a series of vaccines during their first year to ensure they are adequately protected.

Vaccines Recommended for all Dogs:

  • DHPP Vaccine—(Distemper/Hepatitis/Parainfluenza/Parvovirus)
    • Start vaccination at 8 - 9 weeks
    • Repeat every 3 to 4 weeks until 12 - 14 weeks of age
    • Booster at 1 to 1-Ĺ years of age, then every 3 years
  • Rabies—required by state and federal governments
    • First vaccination between 12 - 16 weeks of age, depending on state regulations
    • Booster at 1 to 1-Ĺ years of age, then every 3 years
      *As of July 2007, all animal care providers in the Commonwealth of Virginia must send a copy of all Rabies certificates to the county treasurer each month.
  • Heartworm
    • First heartworm test is recommended at 1 to 1-Ĺ years of age
    • Heartworm prevention medication should be given every month, starting as a puppy, lifelong
    • If heartworm prevention medication is given intermittently, testing for heartworms should be done each year
    • If heartworm prevention medication is given monthly throughout the year, heartworm tests may be administered every other year
    • If more than 1 dose was missed, please call your veterinarian before restarting heartworm preventatives

Additional Dog Vaccines—Please ask your veterinarian about your petís exposure risks to these other diseases.

  • Bordetella—a vaccine recommended for dogs that go to boarding facilities, doggie day-care, grooming facilities, dog parks, etc.
    • Start vaccination at 9 weeks of age
    • Repeat vaccine in 3 weeks (depends on the type of vaccine used)
    • Booster vaccine every 6 - 12 months (this depends on the doctor recommendation and the boarding facility)
  • Leptospirosis—a vaccine recommended for pets that may be exposed to water or soil containing bacterial leptospires.
    Check out the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website for more information.
    • Start vaccination at 12 weeks of age
    • Repeat vaccination in 2 - 3 weeks
    • Booster vaccine every year
  • Lyme—a vaccine recommended for pets that may be exposed to ticks carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi). See the CDC page about pets and Lyme Disease for more information.
    • Start vaccination at 12 weeks of age
    • Repeat in 2 - 3 weeks
    • Booster vaccines every year
  • Canine Influenza (H3N8 Virus)—a vaccine recommended for dogs that go to boarding facilities, doggie day-care, grooming facilities, dog parks, etc.
    • Start vaccination at 12 weeks of age
    • Repeat vaccination in 2 - 3 weeks
    • Booster vaccine every year

Vaccines Recommended for all Cats:

  • FVRCP—Feline Distemper (Feline Herpes, Calici, Panleukopenia)
    • Start vaccination at 8 weeks of age
    • Repeat every 3 - 4 weeks until 12 - 14 weeks of age
    • Booster at 1 to 1-Ĺ years, then every 3 years
  • Rabies—required by state and federal governments
    • First vaccination between 3 - 4 months of age
    • Booster at 1 to 1-Ĺ years, then every 1 or 3 years (depending on the vaccine used)
  • FeLv/FIV Test—Feline Leukemia
    • This test is recommended for all kittens and cats that have never been tested

Additional cat vaccine - please discuss possible exposure of your cat to Feline Leukemia with your veterinarian. This vaccine is only recommended for kittens and cats that go outside.

  • FeLv—Feline Leukemia
    • First vaccination at 9 weeks of age
    • Repeat vaccination at 12 weeks of age
    • Booster every year

Your veterinarian will let you know if your pet requires boosters of the vaccines. Note that puppies and kittens should receive booster immunizations until they are at least 12 - 16 weeks old. Older pets with no vaccination history will also require booster vaccines. The needs of adult pets will vary and the doctor will design an individualized vaccine booster program to meet your petís needs.

A Note on Pet Vaccinations: Potential Risks and Side Effects.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the increased use of vaccinations in pets over the last century has been hugely successful in preventing death and disease in millions of animals. Certain diseases are much less prevalent now than they were in the past in the United States as a result of pet vaccination campaigns such as Rabies, Parvo, and Distemper. The benefit of controlling the spread of these diseases is broad - all of them can affect populations of wildlife, and some of these diseases can be spread to people. Rabies, for example, is a very serious disease, fatal if transmitted to people. Therefore, immunizing your animal against diseases helps protect your pet, your family, and your community.

As is the case with human medicine, the use of any vaccination runs some risk to the health of the patient. These risks must be carefully weighed against the benefits of protecting your pet and your family from the spread of disease. Some pets may experience mild reactions to vaccines that should subside within a couple of days, including tenderness or swelling at the injection site, decreased activity, fever, or loss of appetite. More serious problems can occur following vaccinations that indicate a serious allergic reaction, such as vomiting or diarrhea, swollen face or legs, overall severe itching, breathing difficulties, or collapse. If any of these symptoms occur, please contact your veterinarian immediately; after hours call the nearest emergency facility.

A rare but serious reaction, injection-site sarcoma, can occur at vaccination sites in cats. A small bump at the injection site following vaccination is normal and should disappear after a few weeks; but sometimes bumps that persist for longer periods of time, or that increase in size, should be checked out by your veterinarian. For more information about this please visit the American Veterinary Medical Association website.

Our 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 petís unique needs.