Regardless of all the ways our pets are unique, if there’s one thing they have in common, it’s a need for protection against diseases. Dogs and cats can be vulnerable to all kinds of viruses, from the deadly rabies virus to kennel cough and feline leukemia. World of Animals Veterinary Hospital in Philadelphia, PA is as dedicated to your pet’s safety as you are, which is why we recommend a range of core and non-core vaccines as part of their ongoing preventative care.
Core Vaccines for Dogs
Core vaccines are vaccines we recommend for every dog, because the diseases they offer protection against are fatal, widespread, and/or easily transmissible.
DAPP stands for Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza. The DAPP vaccine affords protection against all of these viruses, which can be life-threatening to your pet. We recommend giving this combination vaccine to your pet as early as 6-8 weeks old and following up with boosters every 3-4 weeks until your puppy is about 16 weeks old. After that, we recommend a booster the following year, and then every 3 years after that.
Canine parvovirus is especially harmful to puppies, so immunization is essential. Parvo attacks the intestines and other parts of the GI tract, causing serious vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and dehydration. This virus is fatal if not treated quickly.
Another potentially fatal disease is canine distemper. In addition to the GI tract, distemper also targets the nervous and respiratory systems. While not as fatal as rabies, distemper can nonetheless cause death in roughly 75% of cases.
All domesticated dogs must be vaccinated for rabies on a regular basis; this is the law. This is because the rabies virus, which attacks the central nervous system, is fatal 100% of the time and can be transmitted to humans and other animals. Your dog should receive their first rabies shot as early as 12 weeks old, and then receive another a year later. After that, we can boost your pet’s rabies immunization every 3 years going forward.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection typically found in soil and bodies of standing water. Wildlife such as deer, raccoons, rodents, and skunks may shed the infection in their urine, which leaves your pet at risk if they frequent the same areas wildlife do. Both animals and humans can become infected with leptospirosis, which makes vaccination necessary for your pet. Untreated, leptospirosis can be deadly, causing symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and even liver failure.
We administer the lepto vaccine in 2 doses, roughly 3 weeks apart, and then re-vaccinate on a yearly basis.
Bordetella, or kennel cough, is an upper respiratory virus that can spread easily among dogs via sneezing and coughing. This illness, while not life-threatening, is highly contagious, which is why we recommend it for dogs. We give the first vaccine intranasally, or through the nose, and the second vaccine 3-4 weeks later via injection. Going forward, we can rotate the intranasal and injectable vaccines for your pet if you prefer.
Non-Core Vaccines for Dogs
Non-core dog vaccines are what we consider optional, and not vital, to your pet’s health. Vaccines that fall into this category are recommended based on risk factors, geographic region, and interactions with other dogs.
If together we determine that your dog is at an increased risk for Lyme disease, which is transmitted by deer ticks, we might recommend the Lyme vaccine. Without proper treatment, Lyme disease can do irreversible damage to the kidneys, and cause lameness. Furthermore, ticks can just as easily spread Lyme disease to humans. Deer ticks are often found in more wooded areas, but they can also frequent tall, grassy spaces, and thick brush.
The canine influenza virus (CIV) is another contagious respiratory infection that can affect your dog. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, with more serious cases developing pneumonia. CIV is spread in several ways: Through aerosolized secretions from sneezing or coughing; physical contact with other infected dogs, and contact with contaminated objects/surfaces. People can also unknowingly spread infection with their hands if they come into contact with an infected dog, and then handle a healthy dog.
CIV can be treated, but prevention is ideal. We recommend the H3N8 and H3N2 vaccinations (which protect against both CIV strains) once a year to keep your dog well protected.
Vaccines for Cats
Cats generally require fewer vaccines than dogs, but lifelong protection is just as important for them as it is for canines.
The rabies virus is fatal 100% of the time for cats, which is why the rabies vaccine is required under state law. Your pet should receive their first rabies shot when they are around 12 weeks old. We provide the Purevax® form of the vaccine, which offers advanced protection and safety for your pet.
Whether your cat is fully indoor or indoor/outdoor, they need the rabies vaccine, and must stay up to date with their rabies vaccinations year after year.
The FVRCP vaccine is the feline equivalent to the DAPP vaccine for dogs. This combination vaccine protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus, and panleukopenia. All of these viruses are highly contagious and have the potential to be fatal. We recommend the first FVRCP vaccine when your kitten is about 6-8 weeks old, with boosters given about every 3 weeks until your kitten is 16 weeks of age. After the initial series of boosters, your cat will need to receive the vaccine again one year later, and then every 3 years thereafter.
The feline leukemia virus is another potentially life-threatening disease for cats. It targets the immune system and can result in a leukemia diagnosis. Symptoms often do not appear until the infection has advanced to a more serious stage. Thus, we recommend vaccinating your kitten with the FeLV vaccine around 9 weeks of age. If we determine that they are not at a considerable risk for infection going forward, we may discontinue this vaccine. However, if your cat does spend some time outdoors, we will recommend vaccinating them again a year later, and then every 3 years after that.