Most of us know the importance of vaccines for preventing disease, but do you know the other benefits vaccines provide? Or, the vaccines your individual pet needs? Keeping your pet up-to-date on their immunizations can help eliminate costly veterinary bills associated with preventable illnesses. They can also help protect your two-legged family members from contracting certain zoonotic diseases (i.e., conditions that can be spread between humans and animals). While some immunizations are voluntary or chosen based on pet lifestyle, others are seen as essential for all furry friends, regardless of geographic location or risk. Still others are required by law or for boarding. Follow the advice of your Walnut Creek Vet Hospital veterinarian, as well as our helpful guide, to learn what vaccinations your pet may need. 

Core vaccines

Immunizations considered necessary for most pets are known as core vaccines. Some, such as the rabies vaccine, are required by law in all 50 states, including Texas. According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), every pet should be immunized for the following infectious diseases:

  • Rabies — This deadly virus affects our pet, wildlife, and human populations, making it one of the most important vaccinations for our four-legged family members. There is one vaccine option for dogs and two options for cats. Vaccination frequency depends on the vaccine type, but generally ranges from one to three years. Texas law requires that all dogs and cats receive a rabies vaccine by 4 months of age.
  • Combo vaccine (dogs only) — You may know this as the “distemper vaccine” or the “DAPP” vaccine—that’s because it protects against the distemper virus, along with adenovirus, parvovirus, and parainfluenza virus. These highly contagious diseases spread easily among dogs and puppies, which is why timely vaccination is important in our young canine pets. In general, puppies should receive a series of three to four DAPP injections, with boosters every one to three years, depending on age and health status.
  • Combo vaccine (cats only) — This vaccine protects cats from a host of respiratory and systemic viruses, such as feline herpesvirus, calicivirus, and panleukopenia virus. Like puppies, all kittens should receive a series of three to four vaccinations, followed by boosters, as directed by our veterinary team. 

Think your indoor cat doesn’t need any vaccines? Think again. Many pet owners claim their feline friends spend 100% of their time inside, but forget to mention their screened-in porches or weekly outdoor walks with their cats. And don’t forget, all cats need parasite prevention, too. 

Non-core vaccines

While not required by law, non-core vaccines may be necessary for pets that spend time in outdoor lakes, visit kennels, or live in certain geographic regions. Let’s see if your pet meets the criteria for any of the following vaccines:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica — This vaccine protects against a pathogen associated with the condition known as kennel cough. Since most boarding and pet day-care facilities, and training courses require this vaccine, most dogs should receive it.
  • Leptospira — This vaccine is helpful in preventing disease caused by the bacterial organism Leptospira interrogans, which is commonly spread through urine, affecting our domestic pet and wildlife populations. Pets who swim in outdoor lakes, rivers, or streams may be at increased leptospirosis risk.
  • Borrelia burgdorferi — Immunization against the organism that causes Lyme disease is recommended for at-risk dogs, including those who live in endemic regions like the Northeastern U.S., or who may travel there. These pets should also receive adequate tick prevention.
  • Influenza (H3N8 and H3N2 strains) — Since cases of the canine flu have popped up in recent years, this vaccine may be recommended—or required—for boarding or other situations where dogs may be in close proximity.
  • Crotalus atrox — This vaccine, which uses inactivated venom from the Western diamondback rattlesnake to minimize the severity of rattlesnake bites in at-risk dogs, is a popular choice for dogs in the Western U.S. 

While vaccines are immensely helpful in preventing and minimizing disease in our pets, no vaccine is 100% guaranteed. Pet owners should remain vigilant with their pets, avoid other animals when they are sick, schedule regular veterinary care, and provide year-round parasite prevention. Always consult with your Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital veterinarian when deciding whether or not to vaccinate your pet, and never administer a vaccine to your pet yourself. 

Is your pet up to date with their vaccinations? We’d love to see you— give us a call to schedule this important appointment.