August is Immunization Awareness Month. Vaccines are just as important for our four-legged family members as they are for us.
What are vaccinations?
Vaccinations, or vaccines, are designed to trigger an immune response. When given they cause your pets immune system to prepare to fight off the disease if needed. This means that if your pet is ever exposed to the disease their immune system will know what to do to fight it off.
Why is it important to vaccinate your pet?
Many veterinary experts agree that the widespread administration of vaccines has prevented illness and death in millions of pets. Not only do they protect your pet from deadly diseases, they improve their quality of life and life expectancy. In the case of communicable diseases, such as rabies, vaccinating your pet also protects you. Vaccines can also prevent large veterinary bills, as the vaccines are far less expensive than the treatment should your pet contract one of those illnesses. Lastly, some vaccines are simply required by state and local law.
Vaccines Frequently Recommended at our Clinic:
The Distemper Vaccine protects dogs from the Distemper Virus, Adenovirus, ParvoVirus, and Parainfluenza. We recommend starting the vaccine cycle at 8 weeks, with boosters at 12 weeks, and 16 weeks. After that, the Distemper Vaccine is given once per year*.
The Rabies Vaccine is required in New York State. The first time a rabies vaccine is given it is good for one year. After that, it is good for 3 years. You will often need proof of Rabies Vaccination to take your dog to public places, such as state parks. You will also need it to have your dog licensed in your municipality.
The Lyme vaccine has arguably become one of the most important vaccines we offer due to the high prevalence of Lyme disease in our area. The first Lyme Vaccination requires a booster one month later. However, if the booster is not given within 3 months, the cycle will begin again. Once the first vaccine, and booster are given, the Lyme Vaccine is done yearly. Even with the Lyme Vaccine, a year-round Tick Prevention is recommended. You can read about our Flea and Tick Prevention options for both dogs and cats HERE.
While not a vaccine, per say, the Heartworm Test is another preventative measure we recommend yearly. The Heartworm Test checks, not only for Heartworm, but also for Lyme disease, Anaplasma, and Ehrlichia (the three of which are tick-borne diseases). A Heartworm Test requires our Veterinarians to draw a small amount of blood from your pet, and is completed that day in our office.
Cats also receive the distemper vaccine. The vaccine protects against the Panleukopenia Virus (also known as Feline Distemper), CaliciVirus and Rhinotracheitis. Just like in dogs, the first vaccine requires a booster in one month, then it is given yearly*.
The Rabies Vaccine is required for all cats in New York State regardless of whether or not they go outside. The first vaccine given is good for one year, then it is required every three years.
FELV (Feline Leukemia Virus) Vaccine
The FELV Vaccine is recommended for cats who are routinely outdoors and may be exposed to cats who carry the Feline Leukemia Virus. The vaccine itself is not without risk, which is why it is not given unless needed. If needed, we offer a combination vaccine with the Distemper Vaccine, to reduce the number of injections your cat receives.
As with anything else regarding your pet’s health, please speak with your Veterinarian if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.
*Vaccine schedules stated are basic guidelines. Your pet’s vaccine schedule may differ based on health, age, allergies, etc.