You cannot protect your pet from every hazard, but keeping their vaccinations up-to-date can safeguard them against many contagious diseases. August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and our team at WesVet Animal Hospital wants to ensure you know why vaccines are crucial for your pet’s wellbeing.

Core vaccinations for dogs

Vaccinations that are recommended for all pets because the disease is highly contagious, causes severe illness, or is transmissible to humans are considered core vaccines. For dogs, these include:

  • Rabies — Rabies is a fatal viral disease that is usually transmitted through an infected animal’s bite. Animals most likely to spread rabies in the United States include bats, skunks, raccoons, and coyotes. Signs include fever, headache, excess salivation, muscle spasms, paralysis, and mental confusion.
  • Distemper — A highly contagious viral infection transmitted in the air and by direct contact with an infected animal or contaminated object, distemper can also affect raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and skunks. Signs include fever, nasal discharge, vomiting, and diarrhea. As the disease progresses, inflammation in the brain and spinal cord occur, resulting in neurologic signs.
  • Infectious canine hepatitis — A contagious viral disease transmitted by contacting an infected dog’s urine, feces, or saliva, this virus targets blood vessels, liver, spleen, kidneys, and lungs. Signs include fever, lethargy, spontaneous bleeding, and inflammation inside the eyes.
  • Canine parainfluenza — This highly contagious viral infection, transmitted through the air in an infected dog’s respiratory droplets, spreads rapidly in kennels and boarding facilities. Signs include fever, cough, lethargy, and nasal discharge.
  • Canine parvovirus — This highly contagious and potentially deadly viral disease is transmitted through contacting an infected dog’s feces. Puppies under the age of 6 months are most at risk. Signs include fever, weakness, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea.

Core vaccinations for cats

Rabies is also a core vaccine for cats. Other core vaccines for cats include:

  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis — A highly contagious viral infection that is transmitted by respiratory droplets in the air and contaminated objects, illness signs include fever, sneezing, inflamed eyes, inflamed nasal passages, and salivation.
  • Feline calicivirus — This highly contagious viral infection is transmitted by respiratory droplets in the air and contaminated objects. Signs include sores inside the mouth, pneumonia, fever, and possibly lameness.
  • Feline panleukopenia — A highly contagious viral disease, feline panleukopenia is transmitted by contacting an infected cat’s urine, feces, or saliva. Signs include fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and nasal discharge. Kittens are at higher risk.

Optional vaccinations for dogs

The veterinary professionals at WesVet Animal Hospital may recommend additional vaccines, based on your dog’s circumstances. These optional vaccines may include:

  • Leptospirosis — A bacterial infection transmitted by contacting an infected animal’s urine or saliva, and by eating the raw meat of an infected animal, leptospirosis signs include fever, muscle pain, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and jaundice (i.e., yellowish discoloration to the mucous membranes). Dogs who frequent rural areas, and those near standing or slow-moving water sources, are at higher risk.
  • Bordetella — Bordetella is a bacterial component of the respiratory complex referred to as kennel cough, transmitted by respiratory droplets in the air and contaminated objects. Signs include a honking cough, sneezing, lethargy, and fever. Dogs who frequent dog parks, boarding facilities, grooming establishments, doggie daycares, and dog shows are at higher risk.
  • Lyme disease — Lyme is a tick-borne illness transmitted after an infected tick has attached for 24 to 48 hours. Signs include fever, lethargy, and joint pain. Dogs who spend time outdoors, especially in wooded areas, are at higher risk.
  • Canine influenza — A viral infection transmitted by respiratory droplets in the air and contaminated objects, canine influenza is high risk for dogs who frequent dog parks, boarding facilities, grooming establishments, doggie daycares, and dog shows. Signs include fever, coughing, sneezing, lethargy, nasal discharge, and difficulty breathing. 

Optional vaccinations for cats

Most optional vaccinations for cats are recommended only for cats who go outdoors, or those who frequent boarding facilities or groomers. Cats who live exclusively indoors are not considered to be high risk. Optional cat vaccines include:

  • Chlamydia — This bacterial infection is transmitted by respiratory droplets in the air and from contaminated objects, and causes signs that include fever, sneezing, nasal discharge, watery eyes, and difficulty breathing.
  • Feline leukemia — A viral infection, feline leukemia is transmitted through bite wounds or during mutual grooming. Signs include weight loss, fever, lethargy, and diarrhea.
  • Bordetella — A bacterial infection, bordetella is transmitted by respiratory droplets in the air and contaminated objects. Signs include sneezing, coughing, nasal and ocular discharge, and fever.

Our veterinary professionals at WesVet Animal Hospital will determine the vaccine protocol most appropriate to protect your pet from these dangerous diseases. If you would like to ensure your pet is up to date on their vaccines, contact our team at WesVet Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment.