Vaccinations are important, even for indoor pets. Some diseases are airborne or can be acquired by contact with fecal matter that might be brought into your house on your street shoes. Diseases that affect pets are present in the environment, and some diseases can spread to humans.
Any animal that goes outdoors should be vaccinated annually for rabies. This includes ferrets and bunnies. If you have a small house dog, or your dog is at low risk for contracting Leptospirosis, your vet may determine that this vaccination is not necessary. Aged animals should only be vaccinated on the recommendation of your vet.
Vaccinations protect your beloved dog from painful and often fatal diseases. They help ensure a long and happy life for your dog, with many hours of enjoyment for you with your animal companion.
The cost of vaccinations is very small compared to the cost of treating a disease or of losing your dog altogether. Many communities have vaccination clinics where you can get free or reduced-cost rabies vaccine,s for example. Check with your local animal shelter or veterinarian to find out when a vaccination clinic is scheduled.
Your dog’s age, health, lifestyle, environment, and geographic location can all affect the vaccination schedule. Ask your veterinarian about the most appropriate vaccines for your pup.
Vaccine: Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus (combined DHPP), Adenovirus
When: At 6 to 8 weeks, 9 to 11 weeks, and 12 to 14 weeks
Booster: 1 year after last puppy dose, then every 1 to 3 years depending on vaccine type
When: 3-4 months
Booster: 1 year after puppy dose, then as required by local authorities
Vaccine: Lyme (optional – if exposed to ticks)
When: 9 to 11 weeks, and 12 to 14 weeks
Booster: Every year
Vaccine: Kennel cough (Bordetella – if it will be boarded, or going to dog shows or obedience classes)
When: 16 weeks
Booster: Every six months to a year
* Not a vaccination, but dogs should receive heartworm prevention in high-risk areas starting at between 8-15 weeks of age, continued for life, with annual heartworm blood tests. Talk to your veterinarian about whether your dog needs heartworm prevention.
After the vaccination, it is important to watch your pet for the next couple of days for any signs of a reaction to the shot.
Possible symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Minor fever
- Irritability, expressed as biting, growling, or unwillingness to be with people
- Unusual sleepiness, lack of energy
- Swelling or redness around the injection site
If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian. If you observe a lump on your cat for more than 3 months after it has been vaccinated for rabies or feline leukemia call your vet. This could be a sign of a vaccine-associated tumor.Reactions to vaccines happen from time to time, but for the most part, having your pet vaccinated, and given a health checkup once a year, is the safest way to protect them and help them live a long, happy life.
Sources: American Animal Hospital Association and Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, Ontario, Canada
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