Canine Vaccinations

Vaccinations are a life-saving tool that can help keep your pet healthy.  Some vaccinations are recommended for every healthy dog.  However, there are many vaccinations available that are not appropriate for your pet.  The goal of vaccination is to prevent your pet from developing diseases they may be exposed to.  A good vaccination plan should take into consideration where you live, what your pet is exposed to, and your pet’s particular health concerns

Vaccinations are not perfect.  They are a tool used to reduce the effect certain diseases have on our pets by preparing their immune system for the disease before they are actually exposed to it.  They can have side effects such as discomfort at the injection site and allergic reactions.  When choosing a vaccination plan for your pet it is important to consider the risk of catching the disease, and the effect the disease could have on your pet versus the risk of vaccination-induced side effects and the severity of those side effects should they develop.

The information below is designed to help you get started and help guide a discussion with your veterinarian to determine a vaccine plan that best meets your pet’s needs.  Your veterinarian will be aware of regional differences that affect the risk of disease and may be able to identify risks for your pet not included here.  To develop veterinary vaccination guidelines the American Animal Hospital Association, UC Davis College of Veterinary Medicine, and Canine Veterinary Practitioners have reviewed the available literature and developed general vaccination guidelines.  These guidelines were used to develop the recommendations given below.

 

The Core Vaccines

Every dog should be given the Distemper/Adenovirus/Parvovirus (DAP) vaccine and the Rabies vaccine.  These are considered the core vaccines because they will protect your dog from the most widespread and life-threatening diseases that are encountered by dogs living inside and out.

Even indoor dogs are affected because the humans they live with can bring in pathogens on their shoes and clothes and infected animals like bats are occasionally found in the home.  Distemper and Parvovirus are often fatal.  Rabies is always fatal for dogs and usually fatal for people.

Due to the risk to people and the laws designed to protect people from rabies an unvaccinated dog exposed to a rabid animal may be euthanized for testing to ensure that people are not exposed.

 

Distemper/Adenovirus/Parvovirus:

This vaccination must be given multiple times when the dog is young to establish immunity.  This is because the vaccine will only take effect after the maternal immunity has worn off.  This usually occurs between 8 – 12 weeks of age.

There are some breeds of dogs for whom the maternal immunity seems to go away later (up to 16 weeks of age).  These breeds include but are not limited to German Shepherds, American Pit Bull Terriers and Labradors.

There is also differing opinions on when pets should be removed from their mothers and adopted to families to optimize maturity, health, and socialization.  For this reason, there is a range of ages given for when vaccinations should be started and completed.  Each of the panels recommended that vaccinations be started some time between 6 & 8 weeks of age and given every 3-4 weeks until 14 – 16 weeks of age.

 

Rabies Vaccination

Rabies vaccination is given once as a puppy then boostered one year later.  The vaccine should then be re-administered once every 1 – 3 years depending on which vaccination is used.  The first vaccination is not recommended until the pet is at least 14 weeks old and is often given at the last puppy visit (16 weeks).

The administration of rabies vaccination is mandated in some communities for all dogs and cats.  If this is the case in your community, the youngest age the vaccine can be given at and the frequency of revaccination may be determined by that local statute.

This vaccine must legally be given by a licensed veterinarian and your pet will not be considered legally vaccinated unless vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian when the pet is at least 14 weeks of age.

 

Non – Core vaccinations

Non – Core vaccinations are the vaccinations that are only recommended for dogs who are considered to be “at risk” for those diseases.  Some of these vaccination protect against diseases that aren’t present in all parts of the country or for conditions seen rarely in the general dog population and more commonly in dogs who go to dog parks.

Thanks to the information you provided in your new pet risk factor assessment we have identified which risk factors your pet may have and the vaccinations that can mitigate those risks.  Please discuss these vaccinations with your veterinarian to determine the right plan for your pet.

Bordetella (board-ah-tell-ah) or Kennel Cough vaccine

 

Fast Facts

Who should consider vaccine?

According to your survey – you should!  If you are planning to take your dog places where you may encounter dogs with an unknown vaccine history then Bordetella vaccination may benefit your pet.  Dog parks, boarding facilities, groomers, dog shows and adoption events are all common sites for catching kennel cough.

Although vaccination can reduce your pet’s risk of kennel cough, it isn’t always necessary.  You should discuss the kennel cough vaccination with your veterinarian and decide if it would benefit your pet.

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is the name given to any infectious disease that causes a cough in dogs.  It is also known as infectious rhinotracheitis (meaning – inflammation of the throat and nose that is spread from dog to dog).

Pets who suffer from kennel cough are usually active, eating, and drinking normally while they are infected but will cough loudly after any sensation to their throat (panting, pull of a collar, eating, barking etc).  This is frequently described as a dry goose honking cough that is often followed by a gag or retch sound.  It can make your dog a very unpleasant roommate but for most dogs will resolve in 1 – 3 weeks.

How could my dog get Kennel Cough?

Bordetella bacteria is highly contagious and will spread easily through direct contact (play time at the dog park) or from respiratory droplets (boarding and grooming facilities).  Pets are usually contagious before they start coughing and an exposed animal will develop signs about 5 days later. Because of this, some facilities require vaccination before boarding or grooming.  Vaccinated reduces the likelihood that your dog will get sick and if they do get sick they are usually unable to infect other pets.

What is Bordetella?

Kennel cough can be caused by multiple different bacteria and viruses and often occurs when a dog is exposed to more than one at the same time (called co-infection).  A common cause of kennel cough is the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica.

What kind of vaccine is it?

Bordetella vaccine is available in three forms:  We recommend intranasal.

  1. Injectable: cellular antigen extraction (only a piece of the bacteria is used).
  2. Oral:  Modified Live.  This is a live bacteria that has been rendered unable to cause infection.
  3. Intranasal:  Modified Life  This is a live bacteria that has been rendered unable to cause infection.

How bad is the disease?

Kennel Cough is usually more annoying to the pet and owner then it is detrimental to the animal’s health.  The cough usually resolves in 1 – 3 weeks but can, rarely, last over a month.  Some pets, usually young puppies or immune compromised adults, can develop a more severe secondary infection of the lung called pneumonia.  This is a rare but serious complication.  Pets with pneumonia are usually depressed, don’t want to eat, and may have a fever.  Pets with these signs should be evaluated immediately as pneumonia can be life threatening. It is for this reason that some veterinarians recommend vaccinating all puppies then re-consider vaccination at their one year exam.

Does this vaccine have side effects?

The Bordetella vaccine is generally considered to be very safe.  All forms of the vaccine could cause mild signs of the disease 3-4 days after vaccination but this is uncommon.  These signs may include coughing, sneezing and runny nose.  When signs develop no treatment is usually necessary.  All vaccines can cause allergic reactions.  These can include hives, red, raised or itchy skin, swelling of the face and neck or anaphylaxis.  Allergic reactions to this type of vaccination are very uncommon.

How is the vaccine given?

The vaccination can be given by injection through a needle placed under the skin, by squirting a small amount of liquid into the nose or squirting liquid into the mouth.

When should the vaccine be given?

Vaccination should be given once your pet is at least 8 weeks of age.  The oral and intranasal vaccine both need to be given at least 5 days before expected exposure to be effective and the injectable vaccination should be given 2 weeks before exposure.  The oral and intranasal vaccination do not need to be boostered until 1 year after the first administration.  The injectable vaccination needs to be boostered 3-4 weeks after the first dose then again in one year.

How often does the vaccine need to be repeated.

The vaccine should be repeated once a year.  There are some veterinarians who recommend revaccination once every 6 months for high risk patients but this is uncommon.

How effective is the vaccination?

This vaccination, like all vaccines is not perfect.  Vaccination will not prevent all cases of kennel cough.  There are multiple reasons for this.  First, your pet may be experiencing kennel cough caused by a virus or bacteria other than Bordetella bronchiseptica.  Secondly, your pet may not have achieved full immunity before they were exposed (common when the vaccination is given on the day the pet goes to the boarding facility).  Third, your pet may experience partial immunity including mild signs of the disease but an inability to spread the disease to others.

 

Canine Influenza

Who should consider this vaccine?

This vaccination should be considered if your dog is regularly in contact with dogs you don’t know well.  This includes dogs who frequent dog parks, dog shows, dog kennels, grooming facility, and retail stores.

What is Canine Influenza?

Influenza is a viral respiratory infection frequently reported in people, horses, pigs, birds and ferrets.  canine influenza was first identified in 2004.  Canine influenza or dog flu causes fever, muscle pain, lethargy, and coughing.  It can sometimes spread to the lungs causing a secondary life threatening pneumonia.  The canine flu is caused by the H3N8 or H3N2 influenza virus.  At this time vaccination is only available for H3N8.  The H3N2 virus was not detected in the united states until 2015 and a vaccination has not been developed yet.

What will happen if my dog gets canine influenza?

Once exposed to canine influenza 80% of dogs will shows signs of infection in 2-4 days.  This may include a mild cough, runny nose, lethargy or a mild fever.   Signs generally last for 3 – 5 days before the pet returns to normal.  Rarely the infection can result in pneumonia which can be life threatening.

How could my dog get Influenza?

Your dog can get canine influenza by ingesting or breathing in virus particles.  This generally occurs because an infected dog has coughed, sneezed or licked on the dog, a person, or an object that is then licked by the dog.  Unlike human flu there is no flu “season” for dogs meaning that infections happen at the same frequency year round.

Could my dog pass Influenza to me?

There have been no cases of humans getting influenza from canines.

Could I give my dog influenza?

There have been no cases of dog getting influenza from people.

What kind of vaccine is it?

This vaccine exposes the virus after it has been inactivated chemically so the immune system can learn how to defend itself from it if exposed again.   The vaccination is only known to protect against the H3N8 influenza vaccine.  It is unknown if there is any cross protection with other strains, such as H3N2.

How is the vaccine given?

The vaccine is given by injection under the skin.

When should the vaccine be given?

The vaccine should be given in accordance with the manufacturer’s label recommendations.  This usually includes giving it to pets at least 6 weeks of age and older. You must then give a booster shot 2-4 weeks after the first vaccine and then re-administer the vaccine once a year thereafter.

How often does the vaccine need to be repeated.

After the initial booster series the vaccine needs to be given once every 12 months.

How bad is the disease?

20% of pets exposed to influenza have no signs of disease.  80% of dogs exposed show signs of a mild upper respiratory infection including coughing and sneezing. A small portion of these pets develop a life threatening pneumonia.  Approximately 10% of those die from the infection.

How bad are the side effects to the vaccine?

This vaccine can cause allergic reactions including hives, red, raised or itchy skin, and swelling of the face and neck.  Rarely pets can develop a more serious allergic response called anaphylaxis .  Allergic reactions are uncommon, but if they occur they should be reported to your veterinarian immediately.  Your pet may need to be evaluated or steps may be recommended to prevent reaction at future vaccine appointments.  Vaccines are designed to elicit an immune response and there is some scientific debate over whether vaccinations can cause immune mediated disease.

How effective is the vaccination?

This vaccination is only designed to prevents signs of infection from H3N8.  It will not prevent influenza from any other strain of the virus (including H3N2).  It will not prevent coughing and sneezing caused by other viruses or bacterial infections.

How much does vaccination cost?

Influenza vaccination will usually cost $30 – $45 depending on the location of your veterinary practice.

 

Lyme

Who should consider this vaccine?

You should consider this vaccination if your dog meets both of the following criteria.

  1.  They will live in or travel to an area of the country where Lyme disease is common.  In fact, 70-90% of dogs living in a Lyme endemic area will be exposed to the disease in their life time.
  2.  Not sure if that is you?  Take a look at the map:  http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/maps/interactiveMaps.html
  3. They will be outside and therefore could be bitten by a deer tick.

http://www.lymeinfo.com/ticks/geography.htm

Vaccination is not a substitute for good tick prevention.  Monthly flea and tick prevention is recommended for all dogs and any cats that go outside.

What is Borrellia Bergerdorferia:

Borrellia Bergerdorferia (occasionally abbreviated Bb) is the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease.  Borrellia is a spiral shaped bacteria that lives in the digestive tract of deer ticks.  Once the tick is attached it takes at least 24 hours for a tick to transmit Lyme disease from their saliva into the bloodstream of the human or dog they are feeding on.  So if you see a tick, pull it right away.  Unfortunately, deer ticks are very small and

difficult to find.  Once the bacteria is in the body the borrellia bacteria are difficult for the immune system and antibiotics to eradicate.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is the name for the signs and symptoms caused by infection with the Borellia bacteria.  The disease was first discovered in a group of young people living in Lyme New York.  Lyme disease was then discovered in dogs in the early 1980s.   Most dogs infected with Borellia will never develop Lyme disease.  Those who do most commonly develop joint pain, shifting leg lameness, fever, lethargy and loss of appetite.

These signs will generally resolve quickly with use of appropriate antibiotics but can re-occur throughout the pet’s life.   Rarely, dogs can develop a life threatening condition of the kidneys called Lyme Nephritis.  It is more likely for a pet to develop lameness and Lyme Nephritis if they are infected with other tick born diseases as well as Lyme.  Reinforcing how important using a monthly tick prevention product is.

What is Lyme Nephritis?

Lyme Nephritis is a rare condition that is associated with but not caused by infection with Borrellia.  Most dogs who are positive for Lyme disease will not develop Lyme Nephritis and large Retrievers seem to be more commonly affected than others.  Dogs with Lyme Nephritis see their veterinarian because they are nauseas, vomiting, not wanted to eat, urinating frequently, and drinking more.  Some will have puffy skin from retaining fluids and some will have difficulty using their back legs or difficulty breathing.

When evaluated by a veterinarian kidney failure will be detected.  Dog with this disease develop circulatory problems and eventually lose their ability to make urine.  It is generally fatal in the weeks to months following diagnosis.  This condition has been associated with Lyme disease because some of the dogs suffering from it were found to have Lyme antibodies in their kidneys.

It has been theorized that Lyme Nephritis may be an autoimmune disease caused by the patient’s immune system reacting to Lyme disease.  No one knows for sure if the Borrellia bacteria is truly causing this sickness or why some patients are affected and most are not.  Fortunately, the condition is rare.

What kind of vaccine is it?

There are multiple brands of Lyme vaccine and your veterinarian can tell you more about the specific product they use.  Typically, Lyme vaccines contain a small piece of the Borrellia bacteria.  The vaccine can’ cause a dog to be infected but it can cause the immune system to “learn” how to fight the bacteria off when it is exposed to the real thing.

How is the vaccine given?

This vaccination is given by injection under the skin.

When should the vaccine be given?

There are multiple brands of Lyme vaccine available.  Your pet should be vaccinated in accordance with that vaccines label.  For most this includes starting the vaccinations after 9-12 weeks of age then giving a booster 2 – 4 weeks after the initial vaccination.  The vaccination should be repeated each year thereafter.

How often does the vaccine need to be repeated.

Once the two shot booster series is complete the vaccine should be once every 12 months.

How bad is the disease?

Most dogs who are exposed to the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria do not develop any signs of ill health.  Unfortunately, for those who do the symptoms can be life long and rarely, life threatening.  The most common sign of Lyme disease is joint pain that shifts from one leg to the next.  This syndrome is often accompanied by fever, loss of appetite and lethargy.  Treatment with an appropriate antibiotic will quickly resolve the problem but it will often return in another few months to years.  It is theorized that Lyme may, very rarely, result in a life threatening kidney disease called Lyme nephritis.  Although extremely rare, the condition is generally fatal.

Does the vaccine have side effects?

This vaccines can cause allergic reactions including hives, red, raised or itchy skin, swelling of the face and neck.  Rarely pets can develop a more serious allergic response called anaphylaxis .  Allergic reactions are uncommon, but if they occur they should be reported to your veterinarian immediately.  Your pet may need to be evaluated or steps may be recommended to prevent reaction at future vaccine appointments.  Vaccines are designed to elicit an immune response and there is some scientific debate over whether vaccinations can cause immune disease.

How effective is the vaccination?

This vaccination, like all vaccines is not perfect.  Vaccination will only prevent 85% of Lyme cases.  It can also cause some side effects including pain at the injection site and allergic reactions.  Some believe that vaccination may increase the risk of Lyme

Nephritis developing.  They theorize that if Lyme Nephritis could be caused by the patient’s own immune response, improving that immunity may increase the risk for Lyme Nephritis.  This has never been proven and most veterinarians recommend vaccination.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1939-1676.2010.0654.x/epdf

Leptospirosis

Who should consider this vaccine?

Leptospirosis vaccination should be considered in dogs with access to standing water, wildlife, and other dogs.  Vaccination is frequently recommended for those pets who live on or have access to lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.  It is also recommended for pets who go hunting with their owners, go to dog parks or who have had wild animals seen in their yard. This can include farm, suburban and urban dwellers.  Leptospirosis is more common in some areas than others.  For more information follow the link below to a US map showing cases of Leptospirosis.

http://www.leptoinfo.com/lepto_facts.html

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a spirochete bacteria..  It can infect many different animals including dogs and humans.  There are multiple subtypes of Leptospirosis called Serovars.

What will happen if my dog gets Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis can affect dogs differently.  Some will develop only mild signs of ill health and require little to no treatment.  Unfortunately, many dogs develop severe fever, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and lethargy.  This can progress to kidney disease which changes thirst and urination.  Some pet also develop liver failure leading to jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes). Dogs may occasionally develop severe lung disease and have difficulty breathing, bleeding disorders, and circulatory problems causing fluid to accumulate in the skin, chest and abdomen.  This disease can be life threatening without treatment.

How could my dog get Leptospirosis?

Dogs most commonly become infected with leptospirosis if skin with any wound (cut or scrape) comes into contact with or if they consume any infected urine, urine-contaminated soil, or urine contaminated water.  This can happen while swimming, using a local dog park or playing/working in areas frequented by other animals.

Could I get Leptospirosis from my dog?

Yes, but this is very uncommon.  People also get Leptospirosis from being exposed to urine of a sick pet.  If you were to get your pet’s urine in your eyes, mouth or in a cut you could become infected with Leptospirosis.  This is especially a concern for individuals who are immunocompromised as the disease is generally more severe.

Could my dog get Leptospirosis from me?

Yes, with difficulty.  This is unlikely if you are practicing good hygiene.  Please see above.

What kind of vaccine is it?

There are multiple types of vaccination available.  Each exposes the pet to an part of the bacteria so the immune system can learn how to defend itself from it if exposed again.  The vaccination will only protect against some (usually 4)  types or serovars of Leptospirosis.

What are Serovars?

Serovars are different subtypes of the Leptospirosis bacteria.  Different serovars are present in different regions of the country.  Some serovars are more likely to cause disease, affect certain parts of the body, and are found more commonly in certain parts of the country.  When the body is exposed to a particular serovar it will develop immunity to that serovar and only that serovar.  The  four serovars of Leptospirosis most commonly included in vaccinations are L.canicola, L. icterohaemorrhagiae, L. pomona and L. grippotyphosa.

How is the vaccine given?

This vaccination is given by injection under the skin.

When should the vaccine be given?

This vaccination should be started no earlier than 8 weeks of age (pending the vaccination label), boostered once 2-4 weeks later then re-administered once every 12 months thereafter.

How often does the vaccine need to be repeated.

Once every 12 months.

How bad is the disease?

In some pets Leptospirosis is a severe life threatening infection.  It can cause the pet to lose the ability to create urine.  This is called renal or kidney failure.  Some pets also develop liver failure at the same time.  Treatment often requires hospitalization, IV antibiotics and other supportive measures and can become extremely expensive.

How bad are the side effects to the vaccine?

This vaccine can cause allergic reactions including hives, red, raised or itchy skin, and swelling of the face and neck.  Rarely pets can develop a more serious allergic response called anaphylaxis .  Allergic reactions are uncommon, but if they occur they should be reported to your veterinarian immediately.  Your pet may need to be evaluated or steps may be recommended to prevent reaction at future vaccine appointments.  Vaccines are designed to elicit an immune response and there is some scientific debate over whether vaccinations can cause immune disease.

How effective is the vaccination?

The Leptospirosis vaccination is considered very effective.  However, vaccination will not prevent infection with Leptospirosis resovars not included in the vaccine.

 

Cats

PRC:  This vaccination will protect your cat from the disease that are most easily transmissible and most dangerous for your pet.

  • Feline panleukopenia (distemper)—Extremely contagious and often fatal, causes fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR)—Highly contagious respiratory disease causes sneezing, fever, loss of appetite, and inflammation of the eyes
  • Feline calicivirus—Serious respiratory infection, often occurring simultaneously with FVR

Two doses of PRC should be given to all kittens 3 – 4 weeks apart.  They should then get a booster in 1 year then again once every 3 years thereafter.

Rabies: 

Rabies is a deadly virus that can be spread by most animals. It is legally required for dogs and cats in most cities to be vaccinated for Rabies by a licensed veterinarian. This is because if it isn’t done, or isn’t done properly, people could die. There is no treatment for rabies (in fact, once the infection has reached the brain, only one person has survived in the history of the human race). Rabies is not a disease of the past, in 2010 over 6,000 rabid pets were found in the United States or Puerto Rico. Failure to vaccinate your pet places them at risk for infection, quarantine or forced testing. It isn’t worth it.

This vaccination is given to puppies and kittens who are 12 weeks of age or older.  It should be given again (booster) in 1 year, then again every three years thereafter.

Feline Leukemia:  Feline leukemia is a fatal virus that causes cats to develop leukemia at a young age.  Vaccination should be given to every kitten (two doses 3 – 4 weeks apart) and a booster dose should be given 1 year later.  Additional doses should be given each year if your cat will be spending time outside or interact with unvaccinated cats.   If your cat is indoor only, additional vaccination is not recommended in most cases.