August is National Pet Immunization Awareness Month, and (as we do during the other 11 months of the year,) we want to remind you that immunizations are not just important: they’re lifesaving! Pet owners are sometimes skeptical, however, when they encounter a list of “recommended vaccinations” that’s longer than a dachshund. A pet can’t possibly need that many vaccines, right?
Here’s the real deal: not all vaccinations are necessary for every pet. For example, since Lyme’s is carried by ticks and ticks are mostly found in heavily wooded areas, an apartment-dwelling Chihuahua probably does not have the same need for a Lyme’s disease vaccination as an German Shepherd with an address in the Santa Cruz mountains.
Some vaccinations, while not critical, are highly recommended by our vets. Bordetella (also known as “kennel cough”), for example, is considered a “non-core” dog vaccine, and pet owners sometimes assume that immunizing for Bordetella is unnecessary if their dog is never boarded with other dogs. However, since Bordetella is a highly contagious, airborne disease, virtually any dog that comes in the vicinity of other dogs is susceptible. For this reason, our vets strongly advise clients to vaccinate their pets against Bordetella.
Similarly, while indoor pets may have a lower likelihood of exposure to intestinal parasites like giardia or roundworm than outdoor pets, skipping a deworming treatment is not a gamble worth taking. Such parasites are not only devastating and potentially deadly to pets, they are also contagious to humans. Children can contract roundworm by playing with an infected cat or dog and can suffer severe health consequences, including blindness, as a result. To protect against such cases, the CDC recommends that all cats and dogs have an annual deworming.
The importance of a particular vaccine for your cat or dog may not always seem clear, but that’s where we come in: your friendly Central veterinarian can advise you on the appropriate course of immunizations for your pet, based on his/her everyday habits and environment. The immunizations that our veterinarians recommended for every cat and dog are the following:
Recommended Immunizations for Dogs
- Initial series up to 16 weeks, 1 year later, then booster every 3 years: Rabies, Distemper, Parvovirus, Adenovirus (“canine hepatitis”), Bordatella
- Once a year (beginning at 3 months): Deworming treatment, accompanied by fecal analysis and heartworm test
Recommended Immunizations for Cats
- Initial series up to 16 weeks, 1 year later, then every 3 years: Rabies, Feline Distemper, Herpesvirus, FERCP/HCP (also known as “Feline AIDS”)
- Once a year: deworming treatment and fecal analysis
Proper immunization of your cat or dog is critical to protecting not only your pet’s health, but also the health of the people and animals that come in contact with your pet. The best way to ensure that your pet stays up-to-date with vaccinations is by bringing him/her to the vet in a timely fashion for each annual wellness check.