Vaccinations Designed for the Needs of Your Dog & Cat

pet vaccinationsOne way Maine Coast Veterinary Hospital helps prevent disease in dogs and cats is through a variety of safe, effective vaccinations. Not every patient needs every vaccine. We work with you to determine the proper level of protection for each pet. We review factors such as age, lifestyle, and overall health at every wellness visit, to ensure your pets remain healthy and happy.

Preventive Care Recommendations

For your convenience, we provide these printable preventive care recommendations for your pets:

Canine “Core” Vaccines

These “core” vaccines are considered necessary for all dogs, to protect against the most dangerous and contagious diseases.

Distemper/Parvovirus/Parainfluenza/Adenovirus (DA2PP)

Distemper/Parvovirus/Parainfluenza/Adenovirus (DA2PP)

Initial series at 8, 12, and 16 weeks, boostered at 1 year, then every 3 years.

These four vaccines are collectively referred to as the distemper shot.

Canine Distemper virus causes a potentially very dangerous disease that affects the respiratory, GI, and neurologic systems. We do not see this disease often anymore, largely due to routine vaccination. Puppies and unvaccinated dogs, especially in a shelter or pet store situation, are at highest risk.

Parvovirus is another viral disease that we don't see a lot anymore, but killed thousands of dogs and puppies before the vaccine was developed. Parvo is still out there though, and causes potentially fatal GI disease, especially in unvaccinated or under-vaccinated puppies. The virus is shed in the stool of infected dogs and, because it is so hardy in the environment, we assume it is everywhere. Therefore, it is important to have your puppy vaccinated on schedule.

Parainfluenza virus is one of the microorganisms that contributes to infectious tracheobronchitis, or kennel cough.

Canine Adenovirus causes infectious hepatitis, a liver disease in dogs.

Rabies

Given at 12 weeks, boostered at 1 year, then every 3 years (unless an unknown bite wound or contact with a suspect rabid animal occurs, in which case a booster is given).

Rabies is an extraordinarily dangerous, invariably fatal, viral disease that can be passed to humans. It is transmitted usually by the bite of an infected animal, but contact with bodily fluids of an infected animal can also cause transmission of the disease. Bats are always considered rabies suspect, and have been known to transmit the virus by scratching. We insist on this vaccine for the safety of you, your pet, and our staff.

Leptospirosis

Initial series at 12 and 16 weeks, boostered annually.

Lepto is a potentially serious, and possibly fatal, bacterial disease carried by wildlife, affecting the liver, kidneys, and more. Exposure usually occurs after contact with wildlife urine. This is a potentially zoonotic disease, transmitted from animals to people, and many strains exist. We are able to vaccinate for only four of these strains, but they are the four most likely to cause disease in dogs. Risk factors include hunting, swimming, or otherwise being exposed to water, even drinking from puddles. Since rodents carry this disease, even dogs that don't engage in these activities can be exposed anywhere, even their own backyard. New England is considered an endemic area for Lepto.

Although this is technically not a “core” vaccine, we include it on the core list since it is transmissible to humans. On the downside, this vaccine has the highest reaction/side effect rate. If a vaccine reaction is observed, we may pre-medicate prior to giving the vaccine or discontinue it altogether. Reaction rates are still very low. In the vast majority of cases, the benefit outweighs the risk.

Canine “Non-core” Vaccines

“Non-core” vaccines are considered optional, and are given depending upon risk factors for each dog.

Lyme

Started at 9 weeks or older, boostered 3–4 weeks after initial vaccine, then annually.

Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks and can cause a variety of symptoms, including general malaise and joint stiffness. Lyme can also attack the nervous system, kidneys, and many other body systems. In a small number of cases, this disease is fatal.

The vaccine is only one way to protect your dog, using a flea and tick preventive is also important. Dogs that are active outdoors in any environment may benefit from the vaccine. We have seen a steady and startling rise in the number of dogs testing positive for Lyme in our area, so we recommend most dogs receive this vaccine.

Bordetella

Can be started at 8 weeks or older, boostered annually.

Bordetella or Kennel Cough is a tracheobronchitis, or inflammation of the airways, that causes a dry cough, often with a gag at the end. Most dogs will clear the cough within 2 weeks, but in very young, old, or debilitated dogs, secondary pneumonia is possible. Kennel cough is very contagious via aerosol, or through the air. Dogs with kennel cough should not have contact with other dogs until the cough has completely resolved.

This annual vaccine is given as an oral or nasal drop, or as an injection. Dogs should be vaccinated if they go to daycare, dog classes, field trials, dog shows, a groomer, are boarded or routinely exposed to dogs who take part in these activities. Some at-risk dogs may benefit from twice-yearly vaccination. It protects against the most common bacteria that causes the disease, but not all.

Feline “Core” Vaccines

These “core” vaccines are considered necessary for all cats, to protect against the most dangerous and contagious diseases.

Distemper/Rhinotracheitis/Calicivirus (FVRCP)

Given at 8, 12 and 16 weeks, boostered annually and then every 3 years.

Feline Distemper is actually caused by feline parvovirus and causes feline panleukopenia. The disease can be fatal and causes fever, diarrhea, and a drop in white blood cells, leaving the patient vulnerable to overwhelming bacterial infections. If a female is infected during pregnancy, kittens may be lost or have permanent neurological disease.

Rhinotracheitis is caused by a feline herpes virus and results in upper respiratory disease. Symptoms include conjunctivitis, nasal discharge, sneezing, sometimes coughing, and painful corneal ulceration. Like the human herpes virus, this can remain in the body even without signs of disease. Particularly after stress, signs may return with varying degrees of severity. Cats at highest risk are those housed in close proximity: shelters, pet stores, or catteries.

Calicivirus causes upper respiratory disease similar to rhinotracheitis virus, but signs are usually milder. There is, however, a newer strain of the virus that can cause more severe signs. The vaccine we use at MCVH is protective for both strains.

Rabies

Given at 12-16 weeks, boostered annually.

Rabies is an extraordinarily dangerous, invariably fatal, viral disease that can be passed to humans. It is transmitted usually by the bite of an infected animal, but contact with bodily fluids of an infected animal can also cause transmission of the disease. Bats are always considered rabies suspect, and have been known to transmit the virus by scratching. We insist on this vaccine for the safety of you, your pet, and our staff.

Note: A three-year vaccine is available for cats that may go outdoors or are difficult to catch, but we prefer not to use it. Though rare, cats can develop a tumor at the site of vaccination and using the non-adjuvanted annual vaccine reduces this risk considerably.

Feline “Non-Core” Vaccines

“Non-core” vaccines are considered optional, and are given depending upon risk factors for each cat.

Feline Leukemia

Given to outdoor or at risk cats at 12 and 16 weeks, boostered annually.

Feline leukemia is caused by a retrovirus that causes immunodeficiency, susceptibility to a wide variety of diseases, including cancers. It is transmitted primarily via exposure to an infected cat’s eye or nasal secretions, or by bite wounds.

This vaccine should be given to cats that will be unsupervised outdoors or apt to come into contact with unvaccinated cats. In accordance with the guidelines of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), we recommend kittens receive this vaccine, until owners get a feel for whether they will be apt to sneak outdoors. Cats in multiple cat households may also need this vaccine, depending on the circumstances.

Feline Immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

Similar to human HIV, this disease is transmitted cat-to-cat via bite wounds. The vaccine has a number of problems, including unknown effectiveness. It can cause the cat to test positive in the future for FIV and may enhance the ability of the virus to penetrate host cells. For these reasons, we do not recommend vaccinating at this time.

We do provide FeLV and FIV screenings when appropriate for your cat.