cat getting immunized.

We all want the best for our furry friends. As pet owners, we prioritize the health and well-being of our beloved companions. Just as humans benefit from vaccinations, so do our pets. Pet immunizations play a crucial role in safeguarding the health of dogs and cats, which prevents the spread of contagious diseases, and promotes long and healthy lives. Leon Valley Animal Hospital understands how important preventive care is, and if you are wondering about what shots your pet needs, we can help.

Why Pet Immunizations Matter

Vaccines, whether in people or pets, stimulate the immune system to recognize and fight specific pathogens. This prepares the body to combat infections more quickly and effectively, which reduces the severity and duration of illness and decreases the risk of serious complications. 

Pet immunizations are important for several reasons. They serve a few vital purposes including:

  • Disease Prevention: Wellness care for pets is centered on preventing disease. Pet vaccinations provide protection against many serious and contagious infections. By vaccinating appropriately, we can protect our beloved pets while preventing spread of serious diseases. 
  • Promotion of Longevity: Because pet immunizations protect our four-legged family, they also promote long-term health, and can significantly expand their lifespan. 
  • Cost Savings: While pet immunizations do cost something, they are far more affordable than treating those diseases that they prevent. Serious diseases such as canine parvovirus or feline leukemia can be expensive to diagnose and attempt to treat, while less serious, but very contagious diseases like kennel cough can result in rapid spread and difficult (and expensive) containment.

Essential Dog Vaccines

The answer to whether your dog needs vaccinations is a resounding yes.  But what immunizations does your pet need? Not all pets need all vaccinations. 

Some vaccines are considered core, or essential. Other non-core vaccines are based on the individual pet’s risk. 

  • Rabies: Contracted through a bite from an infected animal, this neurological condition is almost always deadly. Rabies is a core vaccine. 
  • Canine distemper vaccine: This is a core combination vaccine and may be referred to as DHPP or DAPP. It provides protection against four serious and highly contagious dog diseases. These include canine distemper, canine hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus.
  • Leptospirosis:  Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that is  transmitted through the urine. Often carried by wild animals, infection with this disease can lead to kidney and liver failure.
  • Bordetella:  This bacterial infection is often implicated in respiratory outbreaks. It can be vaccinated against, lessening the length and seriousness of any contracted infection. 
  • Canine influenza:  A newer concern for dogs, canine influenza can cause contagious and potentially serious respiratory infections. 
  • Lyme: This tick-borne bacterial disease can lead to joint pain, blood disturbances, and kidney disease. Vaccination in combination with good tick prevention can ward off disease.
  • Rattlesnake toxoid:  This vaccination can be useful for dogs at a high risk for encountering snakes to have a less serious reaction to envenomation. 

Cat Vaccines

Cats also need to be vaccinated, even if they are kept indoors. Vaccines for cats include:

  • Rabies: Rabies is a viral disease found in the wildlife population throughout the United States. An infected animal exhibits progressive neurologic symptoms that nearly always lead to death. Because of the serious nature of this disease and human health risk, nearly all dogs and cats should receive their rabies vaccinations. 
  • Distemper combo: Most cat patients benefit from being vaccinated against the diseases in the distemper combination, or FVRCP, vaccine. This helps to protect against potentially devastating diseases like panleukopenia.
  • Feline leukemia: Feline leukemia is a retrovirus similar to HIV in people that can lead to tumor development and immunosuppression. Young cats and those with exposure to other cats outside of the home may benefit from this non-core vaccine.

Pet immunizations are a fundamental aspect of responsible pet ownership. By ensuring that our dogs and cats are current on their protection, we can maintain their health, prevent the spread of contagious disease, and enjoy more happy and healthy years together with them. 

Be sure to discuss your pet’s preventive care plan with us regularly. We are happy to talk with you and help you to prioritize your pet’s well-being and be sure that they receive the essential vaccinations that they need.