Infectious diseases are conditions caused by microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or protozoans. Many of these diseases, in both people and pets, are easily spread among species, especially those in close quarters. Thanks to modern medicine and the advent of vaccinations, the incidence of many infectious diseases has decreased dramatically. Without current vaccines, our pets would experience an uptick in these potentially severe diseases. For this reason, most boarding facilities require that pets stay up-to-date on certain vaccinations.
At Walnut Creek Vet Hospital, we require the following vaccines for boarders, for these reasons:
- Rabies vaccine — Rabies is a deadly virus that affects the central nervous system, ultimately causing death. The virus is most often spread through the bite of an infected animal, but can be transmitted via mucous membranes or any open skin area. Humans and animals can contract rabies, but most cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) occur in wild animals such as bats, raccoons, and foxes. Domestic pets are not commonly infected with rabies, likely due to tight vaccine regulations requiring that domestic pets be vaccinated. Puppies and kittens should receive their first rabies vaccine between 12 and 16 weeks of age, and every one to three years thereafter, depending on their age and vaccine history.
- Distemper vaccine — Canine distemper is caused by a family of viruses with a wide variety of clinical signs. Distemper is primarily a disease of dogs, but can also affect other animals, such as coyotes, wolves, and ferrets. Infected pets may show signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, nasal or eye discharge, coughing, fever, and lethargy. Distemper is spread primarily through airborne exposure, meaning pets in close quarters can facilitate the spread of this potentially deadly disease. Puppies should receive a series of three to four distemper vaccines by the time they reach 16 or 17 weeks of age, then once every one to three years.
- Parvovirus vaccine — Parvovirus, or “parvo,” is a relatively common, but serious, disease of dogs. Unvaccinated puppies are most commonly afflicted with this virus, which causes profuse bloody diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and lethargy. Without prompt intervention, infected puppies can quickly decline and die. Parvovirus is highly contagious and can spread via direct contact, contact with infected feces, or via fomites such as food bowls. The virus is notoriously resistant and can survive on surfaces for long periods without proper disinfection. Like distemper, the parvovirus vaccine should be administered three to four times until 16 weeks of age, and every one to three years thereafter. It is most often administered as a combination vaccine with distemper, adenovirus, and parainfluenzavirus.
- Bordetella vaccine — A bacterial organism that affects the respiratory tract, bordetella can affect both dogs and cats, but is often a component of tracheobronchitis in dogs, a common infectious disease known as “kennel cough.” Not surprisingly, the bordetella vaccine is required by most kenneling and daycare facilities due to its highly contagious nature. This vaccine is typically given to puppies between 8 and 12 weeks of age, and then every 6 to 12 months.
- Canine influenza vaccine — Two strains of influenza currently affect dogs—H3N8, which likely derived from horses, and H3N2, which likely arose from wild birds. Flu viruses, which are famous for their ability to mutate and drift from species to species, cause similar clinical signs across most mammals. Signs are typically respiratory in nature, such as nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing, and fever. While the H3N2 canine flu strain can affect cats, no vaccine is currently approved for the feline species. Dogs receive a series of two vaccines, spread three to four weeks apart, and then once a year.
- FVRCP vaccine — The feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia virus vaccine is a combination vaccine that addresses a variety of common feline diseases. Frequently referred to as the “feline distemper vaccine,” the panleukopenia virus is from the same family as the canine distemper virus. Rhinotracheitis and calicivirus are common in cats and typically cause upper respiratory signs. Affected cats will sneeze, have nasal or ocular discharge, fever, and inappetence. These infections run rampant in shelters and other close quarters. Kittens are most commonly affected, and should receive three to four FVRCP vaccines by the age of 16 weeks, and then every one to three years.
Contact us today with your vaccine questions, or to set up an appointment for vaccination.