One of the most important things you can do to give your pet a long and healthy life is to vaccinate them against common diseases. For the first few weeks after birth the mother will provide disease fighting antibodies in her milk. After, it is up to you to provide protection to your pet through regular vaccinations.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines contain small amounts of killed viruses, bacteria, or other disease causing organisms. When given, the vaccine will stimulate your dog or cat to produce antibodies to protect them against these diseases.
When should my dog or cat be vaccinated?
Initial vaccination usually begins around 7-8 weeks of age, with boosters following every 3-4 weeks until the pet is 4 months of age. If too long of an interval occurs between vaccinations, the series may have to be started over. After the series is complete, your dog or cat will require annual boosters for the rest of their life.
Which vaccines should my dog or cat receive?
Most pets should be vaccinated for those diseases which are more common, highly contagious and which cause serious illness. Other vaccines may be recommended by your veterinarian based on heredity, environment or lifestyle of your dog or cat.
What vaccines are recommended for my dog?
For all dogs, we recommend the distemper combination with leptospirosis (DHPPL), the intranasal bordetella and the rabies vaccine which is the one vaccine required by law. For dogs that are often around other dogs, used for hunting, live on a farm, or eat and drink from unknown sources the veterinarian will recommend further protection from vaccines. This may include vaccines for Canine Influenza, Lyme disease and Giardia.
What vaccines are recommended for my cat?
For all cats, we recommend the distemper combination (FVRCP), feline leukemia and the rabies vaccine which is the one vaccine required by law. For cats that live outside, your veterinarian may recommend vaccination for some other disease such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).
What are the different canine vaccines protecting for?
The DHPPL is a combination vaccine. This vaccine protects against canine distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, parainfluenza and leptospirosis. Canine distemper is highly contagious and spread by discharges from the nose and eyes of infected dogs. The distemper virus attacks many organs, including the nervous system. This virus is often fatal and if the dog recovers, they may have permanent damaged. Canine parvovirus is also a highly contagious virus and potentially fatal. This virus is most severe in young puppies which are not fully vaccinated. Parvovirus is spread through the feces of infected dogs and is a resistant virus that can stay in the environment for many years. Infectious canine hepatitis is caused by the canine adenovirus. This disease is transmitted by contact with secretion, such as saliva, infected urine or feces. Hepatitis can cause liver failure, eye damage and breathing problems. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease which attacks the kidneys and liver. During the puppy series, the dog may also receive a vaccine for the coronavirus. This is a virus which is more common in puppies and will attach the intestinal system.
The intranasal bordetella protects against canine cough, a highly contagious disease of the upper respiratory tract. Like a cold in humans, this organism is spread through coughing and sneezing. Dogs that are boarded, groomed, attend dog show, go to the pet store or around other dogs frequently are at higher risk for this disease.
Canine influenza is a newly emerging disease caused by a "flu" virus in dogs. This "flu" is highly contagious and can be spread by direct contact, coughing or sneezing and contaminated hands, clothing or other surfaces. Signs of canine "flu" are similar to canine cough and can last up to one month. Signs can range from coughing, sneezing, low-grade fever, nasal discharge, lack of energy and loss of appetite. A small percent of dogs can develop more sever symptoms that may lead to hospitalization and be fatal. The canine influenza vaccine works similar to the human flu vaccine. By vaccinating your dog, if they "catch the flu" the symptoms will be less severe and damaging to the body, and recovery faster.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infections transmitted by ticks to dogs and other people. Most often Lyme disease is spread by the dear tick through out the United States. In the western states, it is more commonly transmitted by the western black-legged tick. Lyme disease can lead to heart disease, central nervous system disorders, or even fatal kidney disease. The Lyme vaccine will help protect you dog if they are bitten by a tick, but it is also recommended to use a tick repellant as a preventative.
What are the different feline vaccines protecting for?
The FVRCP is a combination vaccine. This vaccine protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, chlamydophila, calicivirus and panleukopenia. Viral rhinotracheitis is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract and easily transmitted from cat to cat. Kittens are very affected by this virus, but this disease is dangerous in any cat and treatment is limited. Chlamydophila is extremely contagious infection of the respiratory tract. The infection rate is very high, and it can be transmitted by direct human contact. Calicivirus is another major cause of upper respiratory infections in cats. Infections can range from mild to sever and symptoms can include fever, ulcers and blisters on the tongue and pneumonia. Treatment can be difficult and cats that recover may have other chronic problems as a result of the infections. Panleukopenia is also known as feline distemper. This disease is caused by a very resistant virus that is difficult to treat making vaccination against it essential. The vaccine is very effective in preventing the disease.
Feline leukemia is the leading cause of death in North American cats. After initial exposure, a cat may not show symptoms for months or years although they are a carrier. Cats with this infection can have health problems ranging from cancerous leukemia to secondary infections caused by compromise to the immune system. Testing is available to determine if your cat has leukemia.
Spaying and Neutering
Spaying and neutering is one of the most important preventive health measures you can provide for your dog or cat. Spaying and neutering will help your pet lead a longer, healthier life. By doing this you are also helping to prevent over population of dogs and cats. For females, spaying before the first heat cycle is recommended. Spaying will significantly reduce ovarian or uterine cancer and mammary tumors. Spaying will also eliminate heat cycles and their associated problems. For males, neutering will reduce the likelihood of testicular cancer and prostate disease. Neutered male also tend to be less aggressive. Neutered males have less of an urge to "mark" their territory, and are less likely to want to roam in search of a potential mate.
Why should my dog or cat be microchipped?
Each year 10 million pets get lost. Without the proper identification, 90% of these pets don't return home. With the help of a permanent microchip, your pet can always have identification, even in the event they lose their collar. This is why the Bountiful Animal Hospital recommends microchipping your animal with the HomeAgain chip. This microchip is always active after enrollment and contact information is easily kept up-to-date. No matter what age you pet is at, microchipping is always a great idea!
Parasites and Deworming
Why should my dog or cat be on a regular deworming schedule?
Regular deworming of your dog and cat is not only important for your animal's health, but also important to the health of humans. The most common types of parasitic worms are roundworms and hookworms. These are intestinal parasites that live inside the intestine of your pet. Dogs and cats of any age can get roundworms and hookworms, and it's very common in puppies and kittens since they can be passed through the mother's milk. Roundworms and hookworms are zoonotic, meaning they can be passed on to humans. Most susceptible are young children. The eggs are in the feces of an infected animal and can be deposited on soil, sand and plant life causing contamination. Roundworm eggs will hatch into larvae after ingested by a human. These larvae can then travel through the liver, lungs and other organs causing damage to the tissue affecting the nerves or even become lodged in the eye. They can cause permanent nerve or eye damage, even blindness. Hookworm larvae can move within the skin causing inflammation. In more serious causes, they can go into deeper tissue damaging the intestine and other organs. To prevent yourself and your family against worm infections speak with your veterinarian. Together you can determine the best deworming protocol for your pet according to their lifestyle. Also, use good hygiene and wash hands frequently. For more information, visit the Center for Disease Control.
Heartworm disease develops when a dog or cat is bitten by a mosquito carrying the microscopic heartworm larvae. Once larvae are deposited, this parasite will quickly penetrate the skin and start the migration into the bloodstream. These larvae will continue maturing into adults which can grow to 10 to 12 inches in length. The adult worm will reside in the right side of the heart and pulmonary arteries, often causing lung disease and heart failure. In the cat, one adult heatworm can have fatal consequences. In the dog, they can develop large numbers of heartworms which make treatment difficult. Heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states. It is an easy disease to prevent, and preventive medications are effective when given properly. The medications are quickly eliminated from the animal's body so it is important to continue protection throughout the animal's life. Remember, prevention is always easier and more affordable then treatment. The Bountiful Animal Hospital recommends keeping all dogs on Heargard® Plus, a monthly heartworm prevention. As an added bonus, Heartgard® Plus also provides deworming for roundworm and hookworm, parasites that humans can get. Testing for heartworm disease is always recommended before starting a prevention program. Once your pet is taking a preventative, the Bountiful Animal Hospital recommends screening every 1-2 years. This testing is affordable, fast, and preformed at the hospital.