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By Dr. Shanna Plitt, Veterinarian

August is Pet Immunization Month. Just like kids, dogs and cats should be vaccinated against dangerous viral and bacterial diseases. Protection should begin early, when your pet is a puppy or kitten, and should be supplemented with boosters annually as they become adults. Certain vaccines can be given every three years.

Here at Huffard Animal Hospital, we develop a vaccine protocol tailored specifically for each pet and their lifestyle. Some pets spend more time outside than others, while some frequent daycare facilities and grooming spas. Research is constantly being done on the effectiveness and safety of vaccines in pets, and we make sure to stay up to speed and on the forefront of medicine in today’s world. We make sure to understand you and your pet’s daily routine, and recommend the appropriate vaccines and prevention. This ensures minimal immunizations to our patients and extends their lives, and quality of life, in the process.

The most common vaccinations for dogs in our area are:

  • Rabies
  • Bordetella
  • Distemper
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvo
  • Leptosporosis
  • Canine influenza
  • Lyme

Rabies – We all know about this one. The Rabies vaccine is given once as a puppy, again one year later and then every three years thereafter. Rabies is transmitted through a bite, resulting in pretty painful symptoms and often proving fatal.

Bordetella – AKA kennel cough. We offer this vaccine orally, but it is also available as a nasal and an injectable. The most common symptom is far too frequent coughing, and unfortunately it can linger for several days, if not weeks. Bordetella can become fatal if it turns into pneumonia, but this is not as common. This vaccine is valid for between six months and one year depending on your pet’s lifestyle.

DHLPP – While commonly called Canine Distemper, this vaccine is typically a combination of vaccines, in one injection, that protects your pet from several serious diseases. Distemper is a highly contagious and fatal disease that attacks the respiratory, digestive and nervous system of dogs. This vaccine also protects against Hepatitis [a disease that attacks the liver], Leptosporosis [a zoonotic disease that attacks the kidneys], Parainfluenza [respiratory virus] and Parvovirus [a highly contagious disease that attacks the digestive and immune systems, and unfortunately has a very high fatality rate in untreated dogs].

Leptosporosis – We recommend this vaccine for all dogs spending time outdoors and exposed to wildlife. It is zoonotic, which means it can be transmitted to humans. It infects the kidneys and liver, and can be fatal if left untreated. Lepto is administered as a part of the puppy series, and then boostered annually.

Canine Influenza – As discussed in a previous blog from our series that you can read here, canine influenza has been spreading to the South and East most recently, with a confirmed case a few months ago in Columbia, MD. We are not requiring this vaccine, but we are strongly recommending it for all dogs who board, get groomed, go to dog parks and who may come near other dogs. We will continue to monitor cases and infections in the area.

Lyme – We have discussed Lyme in previous blog posts as well, and most people are familiar with this vaccination given the number of Deer Ticks we all come across in Maryland. Lyme causes flu-like symptoms, as well as joint issues. Since the Deer Tick is prevalent in our area, we strongly recommend this vaccine, as well as monthly prevention.

The most common vaccinations for cats in our area are:

  • Rabies
  • Feline Leukemia

Rabies – Similarly to dogs, the rabies vaccine is given once as a kitten and boostered every year thereafter.

FVCRP – This covers Feline Panleukopenia [Distemper] and 3 respiratory viruses [Pneumonitis, Calicivirus, Rhinotracheitis]. We recommend starting early with most cats to prevent them from becoming carriers for the entirety of their lives.

Feline Leukemia – This disease, unfortunately, is fairly common and can infect young kittens. Especially those that go outside on occasion and may bump into other cats. It is a deadly disease that we can prevent, so we suggest testing within their first 14 weeks.

Remember, it is important to speak with your veterinarian about what vaccines make the most sense for you and your pet. Give Huffard Animal Hospital a call at 410.768.3620 or click here to schedule your vaccine appointment today.

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