Vaccinate to Save Lives – It's really that simple.

When it comes to vaccinating pets there are many different views. The information in this article will help provide insight into when and why you should vaccinate based on certain factors.

Insurance Needed:

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 disease that exists in your area, these are called “Noncore Vaccines”. Noncore vaccine needs to be boosted yearly to ensure continued protection.

Examples of noncore vaccines:
  • 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: Feline Leukemia is a disease that needs to be vaccinated for if your cats are 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.


Core vaccines:

As there are noncore vaccines – there are “Core Vaccines” also. Core vaccines are ones that all pets are exposed to no matter where they live, and threaten life if you fail to protect.
  • In dogs these are Parvo, Distemper, Adenovirus and Rabies.
  • In cats, 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 1 1/2 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.

Vaccine booster is needed but when?

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 its 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. Using any other vaccine for Parvo, you get one year of proven protection.

Disease Titers:

Antibody titers for your pet are available to tell the immune status 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.

Minor risk of disease:

Vaccines can cause issues just as bee stings sometimes cause discomfort, but our dogs and cats are healthier because of the insurance that a vaccine gives. We know that the majority of the disease we vaccinate for are most prominent under 1 1/2 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).

Make your vaccine decisions wisely. Don’t use vaccine for diseases that do not exist where you live, but do protect them from all diseases that can prove deadly to your pet.

- Dr. B





The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified 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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