Vaccinations are essential to the well-being of every pet in Melrose, MA, but not every pet needs every vaccine. Some vaccines are more important than others, and any discerning veterinarian will work with you to determine which vaccines your pet needs to stay healthy for the long-term. So, which pet vaccinations are necessary? And which ones aren’t?
Dog vaccinations are either “core” or “noncore.” Core vaccines are highly recommended for every pet, due to the prevalence and the danger of the disease or diseases they protect against. Noncore vaccines, on the other hand, are only recommended to pets who are at risk. Your veterinarian will determine which noncore vaccines your pet needs based on several factors including:
- Health condition
- If they are indoors or outdoors
- If and where they travel
Core Vaccinations for Dogs
The diseases these vaccines protect against are highly prevalent in the environment, potentially deadly, or both! Core vaccines are recommended for every pet to not only protect your pet but the greater pet community from these dangerous illnesses.
Core vaccines for pets include:
- Rabies – The rabies vaccine for pets is required by law in the state of Massachusetts because of its deadliness and contagiousness. Rabies is fatal once symptoms are present and it is zoonotic, meaning it can be transferred to your human family, too.
- Distemper – Canine distemper is highly contagious and has no cure, but healthy pets can survive if given treatment for the symptoms. However, very young puppies, older pets, and those with underlying health issues are at particular risk.
- Parvovirus – Parvovirus is potentially fatal to young puppies and senior pets, and can cause lasting health consequences in healthy pets. The disease can also be spread through a pet’s feces even after they have recovered from parvo, putting more pets in your community at risk of infection. The parvo vaccine is the only true safeguard against your pet contracting this illness.
- Adenovirus – The adenovirus is responsible for causing hepatitis in pets. This illness can result in severe liver damage, hemorrhage, and even death. It is spread through the feces and urine of an infected pet.
- Parainfluenza – Parainfluenza causes flu-like symptoms in your pet, and while usually not fatal, if left untreated, it can cause lasting internal damage. Plus, it’s highly contagious, so it’s best to control its spread with vaccination.
Noncore Vaccinations for Dogs
Noncore vaccines are given to pets based on their exposure to risk. Depending on your pet’s lifestyle, your veterinarian may recommend one or more of these to keep your companion healthy:
- Bordetella – Bordetella, also known as “kennel cough,” is a bacterial infection that is highly contagious between pets in confined spaces and those who share toys, water bowls, food bowls, etc. The bacteria develop in the pet’s trachea and cause damage if left untreated. Symptoms often include a cough, fever, nasal discharge, sneezing, and loss of appetite. Without intervention, the disease could cause a secondary bacterial infection or pneumonia. We’ll recommend this pet vaccination if your pet is often boarded, visits the pet park, takes part in group training classes, or is otherwise often in close proximity to other pets.
- Leptospirosis – Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can be found in soil or water that has been contaminated by the urine of an infected animal. If your pet is often in wildlife areas where Leptospira may be present, we’ll recommend this vaccine.
- Lyme disease – Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness spread primarily by the deer tick, or black-legged tick. Lyme disease is highly prevalent in Melrose and the greater New England area. If you often take your pet hiking in areas where ticks are present, this vaccine can add an extra layer of safety to your adventures.
- Canine influenza – Canine influenza causes flu-like symptoms and is highly contagious between pets. While often not deadly, it can still cause life-limiting illness. We recommend this vaccine for pets who are often in social situations similar to Bordetella’s recommendations: boarded pets, pets who visit pet parks, and those in group training classes.
Your Dog’s Vaccination Schedule
So, when does your pet actually receive their vaccines? Puppies will start on a vaccination schedule soon after they’re weaned, usually between 6 and 8 weeks of age. They will continue to receive boosters every 3-4 weeks until about 16 weeks of age to build their immunity up. Initial puppy shots will always include the distemper combo, DA2PP, which covers distemper, adenovirus 2, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. The rabies vaccine is given to puppies at about 12 weeks of age and then again at 1 year of age.
Depending on the lifestyle you expect your puppy to lead, your veterinarian may recommend some of the noncore vaccines, and will include them in their initial vaccination series.
After your puppy’s initial series of vaccines, your adult pet will continue to receive booster vaccines throughout their life. For distemper and rabies, some vets, including Melrose Animal Clinic, offer three-year vaccines as opposed to the traditional annual boosters. These vaccines offer your pet full protection with fewer vaccinations. For many of the lifestyle vaccines, only annual vaccines are available. Bordetella is often needed on a semiannual basis.
Interested in learning more about pet vaccinations and which one your pet needs to stay healthy? Make an appointment at Melrose Animal Clinic today!
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