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A Guide to Dog and Cat Vaccinations

When it comes to vaccinating pets, there are many different views. This guide to dog and cat vaccinations will provide insight into when and why you should vaccinate based on certain factors.


Vaccines provide insurance against specific diseases for the area in which you live. That is how you determine the need for vaccines. If the disease is not in your area – you do not vaccinate as you need no insurance against it. If you’re vaccinating for a disease that exists in your area, these are called “Non-core Vaccines.” Non-core vaccines need to be boosted yearly to ensure continued protection.


  • Lepto: Lepto is shed in the urine of infected animals, mostly wildlife and rodents, thriving in wet environments. Lepto hates dry environments and can’t survive, so the need to use is minimal in the desert. If you do live in a wet environment where your dog has access to soil and water, it is important to vaccinate.
  • Lyme Disease: In the north and Midwest, we see lots of Lyme disease because the tick that carries the disease is prominent. Deer act as intermediary hosts, accelerating Lyme disease in the tick, which can bite dogs. If you live in the Midwest or North Eastern Unites States, you need insurance against Lyme disease for your dog.
  • Feline Leukemia in cats: Your cat should be vaccinated for Feline Leukemia if he is exposed to the outside. Outside cats need insurance or protection, and this is the reason you vaccinate. Cats that spend 100% of their time inside are not exposed to the disease and are not vaccinated for Feline Leukemia.


There are “Core Vaccines” also. Core vaccines are ones that all pets are exposed to no matter where they live, and they will threaten the life of your pet if you fail to protect him.

  • In dogs, these are Parvo, Distemper, Adenovirus and Rabies.
  • In cats, these are Panleukopenia (Distemper), Herpes (Rhinotracheitis), Calici and Rabies.
Core vaccines are especially important to young and old animals as they have the least resistance to disease. For example 90% of Parvo happens in puppies less than 1½ years of age. When you use a Parvo vaccine correctly in puppies, you greatly decrease the chance of problems. In cats, Panleukopenia is the same – kittens are highly susceptible and need maximum protection early.


We know that Distemper lasts years after the first year booster, and studies show that Hepatitis is likely good for four years. Parvo is a killer because it's titer does not linger for years. Only one vaccine has been able to get a three-year label (Continuum) for efficacy with Parvo. If using Continuum – do a three-year Parvo program. If you are using any other vaccine for Parvo, you get one year of proven protection.

We know that the majority of the diseases we vaccinate for are most prominent under 1 ½ years of age. The one-year booster is very important, but the need for booster in middle age (two to seven years) is minimal. (Notice I did not say nonexistent).


Antibody titers for your pet are available to tell the immune status for that day. These titers require serum to be taken from the pet and a lab to measure the titer. Every lab has their measuring standard; the lab will tell you what they consider protective. Re-check titer every 6 months to avoid a window of opportunity, as titers drop.


Vaccines can occasionally cause issues, but serious issues with vaccines are rare. Your pet may have some mild discomfort at the site of injection. Our dogs and cats are healthier because of the insurance that a vaccine gives.

Make your vaccine decisions wisely. Don’t give vaccines for diseases that do not exist where you live, but do protect pets from all diseases that could be deadly to them.

If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.

-Dr. B
Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

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For over 25 years, Revival Animal Health has been caring for people who care for pets by delivering quality, reliable products, along with customer service that's committed to your needs. Owners, breeders and shelters count on us because we too love pets, and provide the knowledge, understanding and genuine care it takes to keep them happy and healthy. We feel this is truly what it means to serve you with Pet Care from the Heart®.

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