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We are often asked the question “What vaccines does my pet really need?

There are certain vaccines that are recommended for all cats or all dogs, and then vaccines that may be recommended depending on the individual pet’s risk factors. A dog that goes to dog parks and walks in the woods, will have different exposure risks than the dog that lives in an apartment and is trained to potty pads, rarely venturing outdoors. Similarly, cats that stay strictly indoors will have different exposure risks than cats that routinely go outside.

Vaccines that are recommended for all cats or dogs are referred to as core vaccines. These are vaccines for diseases that are considered a risk for all cats and dogs, regardless of lifestyle. For other vaccines, we will ask questions to determine what your pet’s lifestyle is like. Where do they go? What other animals do they have regular contact with? What is their daily routine?  We will then discuss with you the potential disease risks for your pet and talk with you about additional vaccines that may be recommended.

Core vaccines for cats are the FVRCP (Distemper, Calicivirus & Rhinotracheitis combination vaccine) and Rabies vaccines. The Feline leukemia vaccine is recommended for all cats under 1 year of age and all cats that go outdoors or have routine exposure to new cats (foster situations, visiting cats, catteries etc.).

Core vaccines for dogs are the DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza & Parvovirus combination vaccine), Leptospirosis and Rabies vaccine. The Lyme vaccine is recommended for dogs that have exposure to ticks, especially if they are not consistently kept on monthly, year round tick prevention. The Bordetella vaccine (kennel cough) may be recommended for dogs that have exposure to other dogs at boarding kennels, doggy day care, the groomer, or dog parks.

Titer testing to determine the body’s immune response to some diseases may be an option, but it is important to know that there is a lot of controversy surrounding the accuracy of and significance of test results. Titer testing is not available for all diseases that can be vaccinated against, and the higher cost of titer testing can be prohibitive.

Making sure your pet is sufficiently protected, without over vaccinating is the main goal. The final decision as to which vaccines are appropriate for your pet is yours. Our job is to give you the most current information to guide you in making informed decisions for your pet. Each year we will discuss any changes in your pet’s lifestyle or risk factors and make recommendations so we can work together to keep your pet as happy and healthy as possible.