Not sure which cat and dog vaccinations your pet needs? This useful guide from our Charlotte veterinarians will help you stay informed, ensure your pet’s safety and prevent common diseases.
Which vaccinations should I get for my cat or dog?
Staying up to date on your pet’s vaccine schedule is one of the most essential things you can do to maintain their health and prevent them from contracting common, often fatal, diseases.
Each vaccine falls into one of two categories - core (required) or non-core (optional). Here, our Charlotte vets explains different types of vaccines for cats and dogs, what they treat, and when they might be required.
Rabies Vaccination for Cats & Dogs
Most states require vaccinations for rabies, and cats and dogs should have these at 14 to16 weeks old, and again at one year of age. Depending on your local regulations, rabies re-vaccination is required every one to three years.
Rabies is a viral disease that is highly likely to be fatal if not treated within hours of infection. It attacks the central nervous system and can cause symptoms ranging from hallucinations and anxiety to paralysis and death.
Ensuring your pet’s rabies vaccinations are always up to date will help your furry friend live a long, happy, healthy life - and keep both you and your family safe and worry-free about preventable diseases. Our Pet Wellness Plans give you all the essentials to ensure your pet stays healthy.
In their first year of life, puppies haven’t yet developed a robust immune system, they so they need a series of vaccinations to protect them from many dangerous diseases. Then, every 1 to 3 years beginning one year after their initial round of vaccines, your dog will need boosters. The frequency of the boosters depends on the specific vaccine, and your dog’s unique needs and lifestyle.
All dogs should receive a DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus) booster one year after their final puppy vaccinations, followed by a DHPP booster at two years of age, and then every three years. This combination vaccine prevents four different viruses in dogs: Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus. All of these are highly contagious and can attack various systems in your pet’s body, from lymph nodes and tonsils to their nervous, gastrointestinal and renal systems. Severe forms of these diseases can be fatal.
This vaccination is optional, and protects dogs from kennel cough which spreads easily from one dog to another in a kennel or boarding setting. Symptoms such as a cough and runny nose often appear. Although it’s not typically life threatening in healthy adult dogs, this condition can be fatal in puppies, elderly or unhealthy dogs.
Canine Coronavirus Vaccination
This is an optional vaccination that can help prevent canine coronavirus. This virus typically infects a dog’s gastrointestinal systems, and can also cause respiratory infections. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Although your vet can help alleviate nausea and keep your dog comfortable, no drug kills coronaviruses.
The optional vaccine helps prevent Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease which thrives in soil bodies of water, can be transmitted to people and typically infects the liver and kidney. While it is not always part of your dog’s slate of routine vaccinations, your veterinarian can consider the risks and options for your dog based on their lifestyle and other factors.
This optional vaccination can protect dogs again Lyme Disease. Similar to humans, this infectious disease is transmitted via ticks and can affect a dog’s heart, joints, and kidney, and lead to neurological disorders if untreated. An infected dog often limps and suffers from swollen lymph nodes, fever and loss of appetite, but do not exhibit the bull’s-eye rash we see in people.
Kittens should receive several vaccinations in their first year of life to protect them from serious diseases, followed by boosters on the core vaccines one year following the initial kitten vaccines. After that, these vaccines are generally boostered every one to three years, based on the specific vaccine used and the lifestyle of the cat.
The FVRCP vaccination is an important part of your cat's wellness routine. It prevents three potentially deadly airborne viruses: rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia.
Rhinotracheitis is triggered by the common feline herpes virus which can lead to severe upper respiratory disease. It hinders a cat’s pulmonary defense mechanisms and can easily lead to secondary bacterial pneumonia or calicivirus. Calicivirus typically causes oral ulcers and upper respiratory tract disease and panleukopenia (or feline distemper) is highly contagious and comes with a high mortality rate.
All kittens, who are especially vulnerable to panleukopenia and calicivirus, should receive their first shots at age 6 to 8 weeks, followed by annual FVRCP booster shots. In some cases, a booster every three years may be sufficient.
This optional vaccination helps protects cats from Feline Chlamydophila (or Chlamydia). This disease appears similar to conjunctivitis (inflammation of inner eyelids and tissues) and an upper respiratory infection. Although the condition isn't life-threatening, vaccination is a good idea if your kitty attends the groomers, kennels, or spends time around other cats.
Kittens should receive their first shot as early as 9 weeks of age, and a second dose is administered 3 to 4 weeks later. Your vet may recommend an annual booster if your cat has sustained exposure risk.
Feline Leukemia Virus Vaccinations
This vaccination protects cats against Feline Leukemia Virus(FeLV). While not mandatory, it is highly recommended as a preventive measure because once contracted, there is no treatment for FeLV and the disease is ultimately fatal.
This virus attacks a cat’s immune system and causes weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, apathy, lack of appetite, pale or yellow mucous membranes, tumors and reproductive problems.