Vaccine Protocol

Today we are writing about our recommendation for dog and cat vaccine protocol.  The vaccine protocol most commonly used now is the yearly vaccines.  We recommend a slight change to this.  Before we go into what we are changing, let us first talk about vaccines.

Pet Vaccine Protocol

                  Understanding Vaccines:
                  There is a ton of stuff in the media today about vaccines and how they are bad for yourself as well as your pets!  They may say vaccines cause cancer or make your pet sick with “vaccinosis.”  While it is true that some patients can have a reaction to vaccines(facial swelling and hives), the overwhelming majority tolerate vaccines very well.  Vaccines will stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against a virus or bacteria in order to help fight that bug if the patient ever comes across the actual bug in the environment.  Some patients will get “flu like” symptoms after the vaccine because the vaccine is stimulating the body.  This is normal and NOT considered a bad reaction.  The reason we focus on the few issues caused from vaccines is because we forget what vaccines have done!  Lots of people remember Polio and how horrible a disease that is!  Vaccines have helped to nearly eliminate it!  Some people may even remember when the Parvo virus was first discovered in dogs.  This virus killed thousands of dogs!  A vaccine was soon developed and now we rarely see Parvo(depending on location, you may see it more or less).
cat vaccines
                  Vaccinating Puppies and Kittens:
                   Again, most people understand that puppies and kittens need vaccines to help protect against certain viruses and bacteria.  But, how many vaccines do they need and when do they need them?  Puppies and Kittens need vaccines beginning at 6 weeks of age.  They need to be “boostered”(given again) every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks of age.  The reason for this time frame is because puppies and kittens have antibodies(protection against certain viruses and bacteria) from their mother.  These antibodies eventually wear off, leaving the young animal exposed.  This time frame is sometime between 6-16 weeks.  We have no way of knowing what the time frame will be in each pet.  So we vaccinate during this time to hopefully catch the time when the pet has decreased antibodies from the mother and the vaccine will help the pet make their own protection.  The saying “Puppies and kittens need four sets of shots,” is a very dangerous saying.  Some breeders will start vaccinating very early, around 3 weeks or so.  If they vaccinate every couple weeks, they could finish vaccinating at 9 weeks.  Also, if you find a puppy that is 4-5 months old, they don’t need four boosters.  If the pets are over the 16 week mark, they only need to be boostered once, so they would need 2 sets of shots.  It’s very important to figure out the age of the pet to decide how many shots the pet will need to help ensure protection.

Vaccine Protocol

                 [EDIT 6-16] What Do We Vaccinate Against?
                   Most people understand some of the diseases we vaccinate against, but not all of them.  Rabies, Kennel Cough, and Distemper are the most common diseases for dogs.  The “Distemper” shot as well as the Intra-nasal(up the nose) “Kennel Cough” vaccine will help protect against multiple diseases.  The DAP(“Distemper”) shot vaccinates against: Distemper, adeno virus causing Hepatitis,  and Parvo.  The “Kennel Cough” intra-nasal helps protect against Bordetella, Parainfluenza and Adenovirus.  We will also give Leptorspirosis as a separate vaccine. There is also a newer virus that was discovered about 5-7 years ago that was making racing grey hounds very sick.  A new form of Canine Influenza(Flu) was discovered.  It is HIGHLY contagious and causes the same signs as Kennel Cough(coughing, lethargy, usually arising 7-10 days after contact with an infected animal).  We also have this Flu vaccine that we regularly recommend.
                    For cats most people know about Rabies, Leukemia and “Distemper.”  The “Distemper” shot for cats is the HCP- Rhinotracheitis, Calici, Panleukopenia.
                  How Often Should We Vaccinate?
                   This has been a hotly debated topic in veterinary medicine!  We typically do these shots once a year.  The “Kennel Cough” vaccine used to be every 6 months!  After a very long time of giving these vaccines, we started looking at pets’ titers to see if they still had decent immunity to the disease.  We started to see that, with the newer vaccines,  the pets’ immunity was staying around longer than a year.  The vaccine companies and the veterinarian’s governing body, the AVMA(American Veterinary Medical Association) got together and re-evaluated yearly vaccines.  They decided there is enough evidence to support stretching the vaccine protocol out longer than a year.  Due to their recommendation, some vaccines can be given once every 3 years!  Below is the list of our recommended vaccine protocol.
                     Dog
                    Rabies- Every 3 years
                    “Distemper” DAP-  Every 3 years
                    Lepto (L from DHLPP)- Yearly
                    Kennel Cough- Yearly
                    Influenza- Yearly
                    Cat
                    Rabies- Every 3 years
                    HCP- Every 3 years
                    Leukemia- Every 2(two) years
                    This is only our vaccine protocol.  Fecals, Heartworm checks, physical exams, and blood tests are still recommended yearly.
                    [EDIT 6-16]It is very important that your first Rabies vaccine is only good for one year. After that, the three year Rabies vaccine can be recognized. This will vary depending on what state you live in and even what county! You have to check with your local county to see what they recognize.
                    Some people may be more comfortable staying on the yearly vaccine protocol for all the vaccines, and that is ok.  We can keep your pet on the yearly protocol or we can move you to the three year protocol.
                    Also, the vaccines that are given might differ depending what part of the country you are on.
                    These are some of the latest recommendations for vaccines for your pets.  Please let us know if you have any questions!