Vaccination/ Immunization

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Vaccination/immunizations are very important for your pet’s health in protecting them against infectious diseases.  Without immunization pets are at risk for becoming seriously ill and can even die if exposed to one of these diseases.  Preventing disease can be very easy and inexpensive as compared with the cost of treatment.  Our veterinarians will work with you and your pet to determine an appropriate vaccination program that best fits your pet’s needs. 

Vaccination should begin early in life as a puppy or kitten as they have the highest risk for serious disease and complications. Young nursing animals (birth to 5-6 weeks) will have short-lived protection from ingesting antibodies from their mother’s milk as long as the mother has been appropriately vaccinated. As they are weaned from the mother their antibody level declines and they are no longer protected so risk for contracting disease is high.

Some vaccinations, especially the first year of life, require frequent boosters to stimulate the immune system in order to develop effective protection. We will discuss with you the recommended booster frequency during your visit.

The following infectious diseases of dogs and cats can be prevented or minimized with vaccination:1

Core Vaccinations: Vaccinations that are recommended for all pets of a specific species (dog or cat).

Non-Core Vaccinations: Vaccinations that are recommended based on an individual pet’s risk exposure.

DHPP (Core Vaccine-Dogs)

Canine Distemper is a virus that is spread in all body secretions (blood, urine, saliva etc.) and causes a high mortality in dogs. The virus causes respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. Exposure to this virus is almost inevitable so starting the vaccinations at an early age (6-8 weeks) is imperative.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis (CAV-1) is a virus that can affect the liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs and eyes. It is also a very hardy virus meaning that it can survive in the environment for months. Severe liver disease, illness and death may occur if infected.

Canine Parvovirus is one of the most common viral diseases that cause serious illness and death in young dogs. The virus infects the gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow. The disease causes mild to severe diarrhea, vomiting, fever and low white blood cell count. The virus is spread through the feces of an infected animal and is very stable in the environment.

Canine Parainfluenza is a highly infectious virus that infects the upper respiratory tract and is spread through the air or by direct contact.

Rabies (Core Vaccine- Dogs & Cats)

Rabies is a fatal viral disease that can be transmitted to all warm-blooded mammals, including humans. The disease is most commonly spread through bite wounds from an infected animal. The virus enters the body through the bite wound and infects the central nervous system causing behavioral abnormalities. The animal may develop a change in attitude, unusual aggression, dementia, disorientation, excessive salivation/frothing, stupor or other behavior changes. Vaccines are very effective in preventing rabies. The first rabies vaccination your pet receives is good for 1 year; thereafter it is good for 3 years as long as you update your pet before the expiration date noted on their rabies certificate.  If you pet is more than 4 weeks, as directed by the manufacturer of the vaccination your pet will receive a 1 year booster.  The city of Brooklyn Park requires that all dogs and cats are current on their rabies vaccination and are licensed with the city; faliure to do so can result in fines.

Bordetella (Non-Core)

Bordetella Bronchiseptica (Kennel Cough) is a common infectious bacterial infection of dogs that affects the upper and lower respiratory tract and is usually accompanied by another infectious upper respiratory disease. The disease affects the larynx, trachea, bronchi and lungs. The infection is spread through aerosol droplets after an episode of coughing and direct contact. The typical signs include a dry, honking type cough, sneezing and nasal discharge. This bacteria does have some zoonotic potential with immunocompromised humans.

*Recommended for pets that have increased exposure to other dogs (ie. boarding, grooming, dog parks, show/trial dogs).

Lyme (Non-Core)

Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi found in infected deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis). The bacteria are transmitted during attachment and engorgement of the victim’s blood. In order to expose the bacteria to the animal the tick must remain attached for 24-48 hours. (For this reason, we also recommend using an approved monthly tick preventative such as the Frontline Plus.) Lyme disease does not develop in all animals exposed to the bacteria initially however the more exposure, the higher the risk. The most common clinical signs with this disease include; lameness, fever, swollen joints, kidney failure, change in attitude/activity and anorexia. If left untreated, permanent damage to the joints and kidney can develop. If caught early and treated, the outcome for this disease is usually very good.

*Recommended for dogs that have an increased exposure to wooded areas, tall grasses and history of tick exposure.

*To reduce the risk for adverse side effects from vaccination and to monitor the effectiveness, we require dogs (9 months or older) to be tested for lyme exposure prior to starting the vaccine series.

Leptospirosis (Non-Core BUT highly recommended due the increasing risk of this disease)

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that develops secondary to the exposure of contaminated food/water or from the urine of infected wildlife. The bacterium most commonly affects the kidneys and liver but is also spread throughout the body. The clinical signs of this disease are many and many of these signs mimic other more common kidney and liver diseases making this disease more difficult to identify. 

This bacteria can also be spread to humans causing serious illness.  The bacteria is spread by contact with urine from an infected animal most commonly through with breaks in the skin and mucous membranes.

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FVRCP (Core Vaccine-Cats)

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis is a very common and contagious herpes virus that causes upper respiratory tract signs such as sneezing, nasal discharge, coughing and inflammation of the eye. Usually once infected these cats will remain chronic carriers and therefore may shed the virus during periods of stress. This virus can also result in abortion of infected fetuses and reproductive problems.

Feline Calicivirus also another common virus that is contagious and causes upper respiratory tract infection. The signs include sneezing, oral ulcers, swelling of the ocular tissue (chemosis), ocular and nasal discharge.

Feline Panleukopenia (aka. Feline Distemper) is a highly contagious virus that is very stable in the environment and most severely affects young cats. The virus is spread through fecal material and contamination and can cause fever, anorexia, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration and abdominal pain.

Feline Leukemia (Core Vaccine for Outdoor Cats and 1st year of life for all cats)

Feline leukemia is an infectious and deadly disease of cats that is caused by a retrovirus that causes immunodeficiency and leukemia. The disease can be spread through direct contact with infected cats, saliva, mutual grooming, litter boxes, food dishes and bite wounds. Young kittens are more susceptible to the virus so we recommend all kittens be vaccinated the first year of life. Thereafter the vaccination can be discontinued if risk for exposure is low.

*For the health of your pet we require all cats/kittens to be tested for feline leukemia prior to vaccination.

Chlamydia psittaci (Non-Core)

Chlamydia is a less common bacterial infection that can cause upper respiratory tract signs such as ocular and nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, sneezing and swelling of the ocular tissues (chemosis). Due to the lower incidence of this disease and risk for vaccine reactions (lethargy, fever, decreased appetite etc.) this vaccination is only recommended in situations such as catteries and shelter environments.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis/FIP (NOT Recommended)

FIP is an infectious and deadly disease that is caused by a corona virus. The disease causes inflammation of the abdominal cavity and organs, and death. Clinical signs of the disease include diarrhea, fever, lethargy, jaundice, weight loss, and abdominal distention. Studies have shown that the efficacy of this vaccine is variable therefore we do not recommend it.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus/FIV (NOT Recommended)

FIV is an infectious and deadly retrovirus that causes immune suppression and death. It is spread through the saliva and bite wounds of an infected cat. The symptoms include, fever, weight loss, diarrhea, stomatitis, enlarged lymph nodes and chronic infections. The vaccination interferes with blood testing therefore we do not recommend this vaccine at this time.

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