Where pets are like family




What diseases do we vaccinate for?


“CORE DISEASES”   These diseases are considered an important part of our vaccination program and are recommended for all dogs.


RABIES:  Rabies is a viral disease which can affect any mammal including man.  It affects the nervous system and is virtually always fatal.  Exposure occurs after a bite from an infected animal.  Because of its very serious nature and human health issues, rabies vaccination is required for dogs and cats.


DISTEMPER:  Distemper is a viral disease seen most commonly in puppies, but it may affect unprotected older dogs as well.  It can cause a variety of gastrointestinal, respiratory, and neurologic symptoms.  Most commonly it presents as an respiratory infection, often times with conjunctivitis as well, that may progress into pneumonia and neurologic disease including seizures.  It may resemble kennel cough in the early stages.  Distemper is commonly found in our raccoon and fox populations.  It is frequently a fatal disease.


PARVO: Parvo is an extremely contagious virus which attacks the gastrointestinal tract.  The virus is very difficult to kill and can live for months or longer in the environment.  Puppies are especially at risk, and when young dogs are housed together such as in shelters or pet stores both distemper and parvo are potential problems, particularly as dogs may be contagious before they show clinical symptoms.  Parvo can be treated successfully, but to do so usually requires hospitalization with intensive IV fluid therapy and medication.  Untreated dogs most often will die.


ADENOVIRUS:  Canine adenovirus has been associated with several diseases including infectious heptatis, upper respiratory infections, and fading puppy syndrome in newborns.  Infectious hepatitis can cause quick progression from onset of clinical signs to death in a matter of hours.  Signs can include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, abdominal pain, and eye involvement.  Upper respiratory symptoms are more often typical of kennel cough or sinusitis.  We see the acute hepatitis syndrome relatively rarely today due to years of vaccinating our pet population.


“NON-CORE DISEASES”:  Vaccines for these diseases are recommended on a dog by dog basis.  Your veterinarian will make recommendations based on your lifestyle, exposure to your pets and your human family, and local variations in disease incidence.


“KENNEL COUGH”:  Kennel cough is actually the name of a syndrome which can be caused by several different infectious organisms.  When we vaccinate for adenovirus and for parainfluenza we protect your dog from two important viral causes.  However, when most people refer to a “kennel cough” vaccine they mean the Bordetella vaccine which protects against a bacteria which is the most frequent cause of kennel cough syndrome.  In most cases, this is administered by giving drops in the nose; however for dogs whose temperaments make this difficult we do use an injectable version instead.  Kennel cough typically presents as a loud, honking, persistent cough and is readily spread through the air.  Dogs at highest risk include those who board, go to the groomer, obedience classes, day care, dog parks, petstores, or dog shows.  However your dog can contract this disease without ever leaving your yard should other dogs in your neighborhood become infected. 


LEPTOSPIROSIS:  Lepto is a caused by a type of bacteria called a spirchete which is shed in the urine and may infect humans as well as dogs.  It affects the liver and kidneys and can cause severe disease and death.  In the past we included it in our core annual vaccination program, but gradually have given it less and less to smaller breeds because they appear at greatest risk for vaccine reactions.  However it definitely is being diagnosed in our area.  Dogs at highest risk have exposure to rodents, wildlife, farm animals, or standing water such as farm ponds.  There are several different varients of lepto called “serovars”; our vaccine protects for the four most common serovars which cause disease.


“Other” DISEASES:  In some areas and/or practices vaccines may be recommended for other canine diseases such as corona virus, lyme disease, and giardia.  We currently are not recommending these products as part of our routine vaccination program, although occasionally if your pet is at increased risk we may suggest adding them on an individual basis.


How often should your dog be vaccinated?


Your veterinarian will ask you to fill out a short questionaire in order to help us identify risk factors which will determine what vaccines we recommend for your pet.  Not only do we consider your pet’s lifestyle, but that of your family as well; remember some of these diseases are important health issues for humans in your household and your family situation may affect our recommendations.


In all cases, we recommend vaccinating for rabies.  The first time your pet is vaccinated is usually at about 4 months of age.  After this first vaccine, a booster MUST be given one year later.  After that, we recommend a three year vaccine.  Laws regarding rabies vaccination vary from state to state, so if you are moving into or out of the area you may find requirements are different.  In our area, rabies vaccination is required by law and proof must be shown before you can license your pet.  For our staff’s protection we do require rabies vaccination for all of our patients unless their current health status prohibits it. 


We also recommend that all dogs be vaccinated for our core diseases.  This includes distemper, parvo, and adenoviruses.  For all dogs we recommend beginning with the first vaccine between the age of 6 and 8 wks;  we then vaccinate approximately every three weeks until the dog is at least 16 wks old.  Your dog will receive a booster vaccine a year later when he or she returns for his one year check up.  At the two year examination, your veterinarian will make a recommendation as to whether you should continue with yearly vaccines, or may use the new DAP vaccine which is approved for three year intervals.  If the habits or lifestyle of your pet and/or your human family change, be sure and let your veterinarian know at your pet’s annual visit so we can adjust your vaccination schedule as needed.


We recommend the bordetella or kennel cough vaccine for all pets who board (a reputable kennel will require this vaccine for all its boarders).  In addition, pets who visit the groomer, day care, dog park, pet store, compete in dog shows, or participate in other activities where they may have airborne exposure to other dogs should be vaccinated.  Also dogs who live together in large groups or who have frequent additions to the pet population should be protected.  In most cases, we recommend yearly vaccination although for pets with very high exposure or potentially in years where outbreaks are severe we may recommend more frequent boosters.


Leptospirosis vaccination is typically recommended for dogs who tend to hunt, catch small rodents, or spend time in rural areas (for example, camping, visiting a farm, etc).  In addition, if your home borders a lake or pond, or if you have a large number of wildlife in your area vaccinating may be advised.  Because leptospirosis has the potential for human exposure, if you have someone in your household whose immune status is compromised vaccinating your dog may be advisable.  In general we see more vaccine reactions related to this vaccine than to any other.  The majority of reactions we have seen have occurred in five breeds: dachshunds,  jack russell terriers, shelties, shih tzu, and maltese.  For this reason we typically do not recommend vaccinating dogs of these breeds for leptospirosis unless they have an unusually high risk factor (i.e.- for some jack russells who participate in earth dog events or regularly catch rodents, or for shelties who herd).   Leptospirosis vaccinations must be given yearly;  in dogs with very high exposure risk a more frequent interval may be recommended.


For all pets, we recommend at a minimum an annual examination to identify any current health problems, catch up with you on any lifestyle changes which may alter our approach to your pet’s preventative care, and to inform you about new or changing issues which may affect your pet’s health.  In addition, we will address other wellness issues at this visit such as intestinal parasite and heartworm control.

Edgewood Animal Clinic