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.
Why Do Dogs Need Shots?
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.
Non-Core Vaccines for Dogs and Cats
- Does My Dog Need a Lepto Vaccine? 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. A 7-in-1 vaccine or an 8-way shot for dogs such as the Nobivac Canine 1-DAPPvL2+Cv 8-way dog vaccine adds “Non-Core” disease protection against Lepto.
- Does My Dog Need a Lyme Vaccine? 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 United States, you need insurance against Lyme disease for your dog. Not only does Lyme disease cause a fever and lameness, but it can also cause Lyme nephritis, a frequently fatal disorder of the kidneys. Also discuss tick and flea control with your veterinary professional
- Does My Dog Need a Coronavirus Vaccine?
Most fatal cases of canine coronavirus are seen in puppies under 10 weeks of age. Therefore, long term prevention happens when mom gives immunity to her pups through colostrum. To keep mom’s colostrum immunity up, use a vaccine with coronavirus when you vaccinate any breeding females once a year. This is primarily recommended in kennels of breeding dogs. The Nobivac Canine 1-DAPPv+Cv 6-way shot for dogs, the Nobivac Canine 1-DAPPvL2+Cv 8-way dog vaccine, the Canine Spectra® 6-way dog vaccine, or Canine Spectra® 10 add “Non-Core” disease protection against Corona.
- Is Feline Leukemia Vaccine Necessary for Indoor Cats? The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recommend all kittens and young cats up to three years of age be vaccinated for Feline Leukemia. Your cat should continue to 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 percent of their time inside are not exposed to the disease and are not vaccinated as adults for Feline Leukemia.
Core Vaccines for Dogs and Cats
There are “Core Vaccines” also. Core vaccines for dogs and cats are ones that all pets are at risk of exposure to no matter where they live, and they will threaten the life of your pet if you fail to protect him.
Standard 5-way dog vaccines such as the Solo-Jec 5® vaccine for dogs offer protection against the “Core” canine diseases.
- In dogs, these are Parvo, Distemper, Adenovirus and Rabies.
- In cats, these are Panleukopenia (Distemper), Herpes (Rhinotracheitis), Calicivirus (FVR-CP) 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.
Booster Shots for Dogs and Cats
We know that Distemper lasts years after the first year booster at about 15 months of age, and studies show that Hepatitis (Adenovirus) 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).
Vaccine Titers for Dogs and Cats
Antibody titers for your pet are available to tell the immune status for that day. These dog titers require serum to be taken from the dog 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 twelve months to avoid a window of opportunity, as titers drop.
Are Dog Vaccines Necessary?
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.
Adult Dog Vaccination
Knowing which vaccines your adult dogs and cats need can be tricky. Vaccinating a pregnant dog is not recommended. But for non-pregnant dogs, what adult dog vaccination schedule should you follow? The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says there is not a one-size-fits-all protocol for vaccination so it’s important to ask your veterinarian to help you determine the best cat and dog vaccine schedule for your pet.
What Vaccines Does My Dog Need?
If you need help deciding which recommended dog vaccines or cat vaccines you should use, we have developed a useful tool to assist. Revival’s Vaccine Finder helps you choose the recommended vaccines for dogs and cats depending on your pet’s lifestyle. By answering a few simple questions, the Revival Vaccine Finder will help you find the best vaccine to protect your adult pet. While shopping for pet vaccines, don’t forget to also get some feline or canine health records to keep on hand as a helpful way for recording immunizations, deworming, microchip info and more.
If you have more questions on what shots do I need for my dog, call us at 800.786.4751.
Article originally written by Donald Bramlage, DVM, Revival’s Former Director of Veterinary Services.
Vaccinating Cats: Kittens and Breeding Cats
Do breeding cats and kittens need to be fully vaccinated? Cat vaccinations early in life can give kittens a stronger start and better protection. Dr. Hanson shares vaccination tips for healthy kittens.
Vaccinating Pregnant Dogs or Cats: Don’t Do It!
Can you vaccinate a pregnant dog or cat? Learn why vaccinating pregnant dogs or cats can be dangerous for the embryos and what happens if a dog gets vaccinated while pregnant.
What to Expect With a New Puppy: Preventatives and Vaccines for Puppies
What shots do puppies need? What puppy worming schedule should I follow? What about flea and tick prevention for puppies? Dr. Greer offers her advice.
Shipping Vaccines: How To Know if the Vaccine Temperature is Safe
When a vaccine arrives with melted ice packs, is the vaccine still safe to use? Learn vaccine shipping tips for whether you should or should not use the vaccine.
Written by: Marty Greer, DVM
Director of Veterinary Services
Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.