The Importance of Vaccinations

Keeping your pet updated on their regular vaccinations is vital in achieving a long and healthy life. Regardless of whether your pet resides indoors or out, vaccinations are essential in ensuring your pet’s health. 

Many contagious diseases are airborne which means your indoor pet could be exposed through open windows, screen doors, and  even circulation vents. Wildlife and other dogs/cats in your neighborhood can also carry diseases through your yard, turning even a two-minute walk outdoors into a risky venture. Some diseases are transmitted through fecal matter, urine, and even saliva and can be carried indoors through your clothing, shoes, etc. 

Additionally – boarding kennels, dog parks, and grooming salons are all areas where your pet is likely to be exposed to contagious disease. 

How do vaccinations work?

Vaccines help prepare the body’s immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which (to the immune system) appear to be the actual disease-causing organism; however, they don’t actually cause disease. Once the vaccine enters the body, your pet’s immune is alerted to the problem and goes into attack mode. Antibodies attack the offending virus or bacteria (antigen) to render it inactive. Once the virus has been destroyed, the antibodies remain in the body, creating a sort of memory bank for that particular virus.

Most vaccinations are given more than once, which helps the body continue to develop antibodies so it can respond even more effectively. Each time the vaccination is given, the body responds even more quickly. This is why pet’s receive the vaccinations early in life and then again later in their adolescence. If the actual virus were to affect them after that, the body would respond efficiently before it could do any harm

What Vaccinations should my pet be getting?


  • DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvo Virus):
    • Distemper begins with flu-like symptoms initially and results in severe neurological symptoms, and often ends in death. Due to the deadly course of distemper, it is considered an essential vaccine for all dogs.
    • Parvo Virus causes anorexia, lethargy,vomiting, and diarrhea. The diarrhea quickly turns bloody. With immediate hospitalization and intensive care (sometimes including blood and plasma transfusions), some dogs do survive. Parvo is a very serious disease and often results in death, especially in young puppies. Due to it’s severity, it is considered an essential vaccine for all dogs.
  • Rabies – Rabies virus is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection. Since Rabies is a public health concern, Rabies vaccinations for dogs are required by law in most states. 
  • Bordetella – The bordetella virus is an extremely contagious upper respiratory virus. Pets who leave the house for any reason (grooming, walks, daycare, boarding, etc) would receive this vaccine. 
  • Leptospirosis – Often included as part of the distemper combination vaccine (making it a DHLPP). Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection. It causes fever, vomiting, increased urination, and can lead to kidney and liver failure and death in both animals and humans. Lepto is transmitted through voided urine from an infected host that may be ingested by your pet through drinking contaminated water, liking paws after walking through contaminated area, etc. Pets who frequent outdoors should receive this vaccine. 
  • Lyme Disease – Lyme disease is transmitted through ticks. It causes similar symptoms in dogs and in people including fever, lethargy, joint pain (often characterized by pain moving from one joint to another), and infection and inflammation of the kidneys. If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to kidney failure and death. Pets who frequently play outdoors, particularly in heavily wooded or grassy areas, should receive this vaccination. Flea/Tick prevention should be worn as an added precaution to prevent tick exposure. 
  • Corona – This virus infects the intestinal tract and is more prevalent in the southern United States.


  • FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia) – Commonly called the “distemper” shot , this combination vaccine protects against three diseases: feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia (sometimes called “feline distemper”).
  • Rabies – Rabies virus is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection. Since Rabies is a public health concern, Rabies vaccinations for dogs are required by law in most states. 
  • Chlamydia – Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis, and the vaccination for it is often included in the distemper combination vaccine (making it an FVRCP-C).
  • Feline Leukemia (Felv) – Felv is a viral infection that is easily transmitted through close contact with infected cats. Cats that venture outdoors should receive this vaccination. 
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) – FIV (sometimes referred to as Cat AIDS) is a viral infection that is transmitted through close contact with infected cats, and this vaccine is generally only recommended for cats that go outdoors.
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). A viral infection most common in catteries and feral colonies, FIP is almost always fatal. Most house cats do not have a significant risk of contracting this disease


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