Preventative Care
Pet Vaccinations

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Office location:
1332 S. Plano Road, Suite 106
Richardson, TX
Phone: (972) 699-7387

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Pet Vaccinations (Under Preventative Care AND Your Pet’s New Home/Vaccination and Your New Pet)

While nursing, pets receive antibodies and nutrients from their mother’s milk. When nursing stops, pets become more susceptible to illnesses because their immune systems do not have the same support they once did. As part of a preventative care routine, pet vaccinations can help protect your pet from life-threatening diseases.

For most pets, routine vaccinations start around the age of 6 to 8 weeks old and continue regularly throughout adulthood. Some vaccinations are even combined into a single syringe so a pet experiences fewer injections. After being vaccinated, most young pets take about 5 days to build protective antibodies with complete protection taking place after 14 days. Some vaccines require multiple dosages given over a short period of time, and most require booster shots every 6 months to 3 years. Pets who have been vaccinated have an advantage over those who have not. When a disease is detected, your vaccinated pet’s immune system quickly responds, decreasing severity of the illness or preventing it altogether. While it is rare, some pets do not develop immunity from their vaccinations and still become ill. If your pet has been vaccinated, is current on all of their booster shots, and has never shown signs of illness or disease, it has likely been successfully vaccinated.

Pet owners should note that vaccinations are preventative, not curative. A vaccination will prevent an illness, but if your pet is already suffering from a disease, a vaccine will not cure them.

Core and non-core pet vaccinations

There are several pet vaccinations that are necessary for all pets and others that are recommended only under special circumstances. Core vaccinations are those that are recommended for all pets, and non-core vaccinations include those that are only administered to pets considered to be “at-risk.” Necessary vaccines depend on local regulations, geographic location, and your pet’s lifestyle. Your pet will be vaccinated according to their risk of exposure and your veterinarian will discuss the best options for your pet. 


Canine vaccinations

Bordetella (kennel cough) – This vaccination is first given to puppies when they are 6-8 weeks old, and it is repeated 3-4 weeks later. Booster shots are then given every 6 to 12 months, depending on the dog’s exposure. There are multiple routes of administrations for this vaccine, including injectable, intranasal, and oral. Your veterinarian will select the best vaccination based on your pet’s individual needs.

Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus (DHLPPC) – These vaccines are considered core vaccines. Your puppy will receive their first vaccination between 6 and 8 weeks old, and booster shots will be given once every 3 to 4 weeks for 4 doses until your puppy is at least 16 weeks of age (depending on when vaccinations were started). A booster vaccination is administered after the first year and every second year following that in most pets.

Influenza – is considered a non core vaccine and can be given at 8 weeks of age. The second booster is given 3-4 weeks after the first dose, then annually. This vaccination is important for dogs that are going to be frequently exposed to other dogs, so please talk to your veterinarian about the Influenza vaccine if your dog frequents dog parks, boarding or grooming facilities, or anywhere that he or she will be in contact with other dogs.

Leptospirosis – This vaccine can be given to a puppies as a part of their DHLPPC series. Lepto is an annual vaccination that is intended to prevent bacterial infections in the kidneys, liver, and other major organs. The leptospirosis bacteria is usually passed in the urine of cattle or wildlife (including small rodents such as squirrels, mice, and rats).

Lyme – The Lyme vaccination is a non-core vaccine that can first be administered when the puppy reaches 12 weeks old. The first booster is given to the puppy at 15 weeks old, and annual boosters are recommended for dogs that reside in areas with increased exposure to ticks carrying Lyme disease. Lyme disease is uncommon in our area, but you should still keep your dog on a monthly tick preventative medication to help prevent all types of tick-bourne diseases. If you are going to be travelling to an area that has a high incidence of Lyme disease such and the Northeast US.

Rabies – The rabies vaccine is considered a core vaccine, and is required by the state of Texas. The initial vaccine is first given when the puppy reaches 12-16 weeks old. A booster shot is necessary after 1 year, then typically every 3rd year following that (depending on the type of vaccination used). 

Rattlesnake Vaccine – Rattlesnake vaccine is a non- core vaccine.  Any dog over four months of age that is exposed to rattlesnakes whether at home, walking, hiking, camping or hunting is a good candidate for rattlesnake vaccine. Rattlesnake bites are about 25 times more fatal in dogs than in humans. Even dogs that survive the bite can be permanently damaged. A dog should get at least two doses about 30 days apart in the initial vaccination sequence. If the dog is exposed to rattlesnakes about six months per year, he will only need one booster per year about 30 days before the beginning of that exposure season. The rattlesnake vaccine is not a substitute for prompt veterinary care if your dog is ever bitten by a snake, but will often lessen the severity of your dog’s reaction to the venom.

Feline vaccinations

Feline Herpesvirus, Calici Virus, Feline Distemper (FVRCPC) -  Your kitten will receive their first vaccinations between the ages of 6 and 8 weeks, and they will need to be repeated once every 4 weeks for 3 doses until your kitten reaches 15 to 17 weeks old (depending on when vaccinations were started). A booster vaccination is administered annually in most cats, whether they are indoor or outdoor. We administer only the safest vaccines on the market:  recombinant vaccines, which are specially designed just for cats.

Feline Leukemia (FeLV) – The first vaccine is given when a kitten is at least 8 weeks old and one booster is required 3-4 weeks later. Your cat will receive another dose at his or her first annual adult appointment, then every 1-3 years depending on your cat’s lifestyle. We also carry only recombinant feline leukemia vaccines.

Rabies – This vaccine is also a core vaccination for cats. The initial vaccine is first administered between 12 and 16 weeks of age. A booster shot is necessary every year in most cats. We also use recombinant rabies vaccines in our feline patients.

Preventable canine diseases and symptoms:

·         Adenovirus – a life-threatening disease that causes hepatitis. 

·         Distemper – also a life-threatening disease that causes diarrhea, pneumonia, seizures, and vomiting. 

·         Heartworm – a life-threatening parasite contracted through mosquito bites. These parasitic roundworms reside in the heart, lungs, and other tissues. Early symptoms in the dog include coughing and exhaustion, especially when exercising. Without treatment, worms build up and cause inflammation in the lungs and heart, causing a pet to cough up blood, faint, and lose significant weight. Heartworms can cause symptoms similar to asthma in cats, but some cats may not show any signs at all before resulting in sudden death.

·         Leptospirosis – a life-threatening disease that causes severe liver and kidney damage. Symptoms can be minor and appear like a urinary tract infection, or can be more severe including loss of appetite, yellowed eyes (jaundice), vomiting, lethargy, and urine that is dark brown in color. 

·         Lyme – a disease transferred through ticks. It is most common in the northern hemisphere which is why the vaccination remains “non-core”. Symptoms include circular skin rashes, depression, fatigue, fever, and headaches. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics if it is caught in earlier stages.

·         Parainfluenza and Bordetella – both are illnesses that are highly contagious and cause symptoms of “kennel cough”. While it is usually not life-threatening, symptoms include excessive coughing, which may progress to fever, inappetance, or potentially pneumonia if left untreated. 

·         Parvovirus – a life-threatening disease that results in diarrhea, vomiting, and deterioration of the white blood cells. 

·         Rabies - a 100% fatal disease attacking the central nervous system. Because there isn’t a cure for rabies, animals that contract the disease are euthanized. The greatest risk of keeping the pet alive is that the disease can be spread to humans.

·         Influenza – Canine Influenza is a relatively new disease in dogs caused by a “flu” virus. It causes respiratory infection. It spreads quickly and may cause serious illness such as pneumonia.

Preventable feline diseases and symptoms: 

·         Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) – a retroviral disease (one that duplicates itself and integrates with the host’s DNA) that causes immune suppression. Most cats that have the illness appear normal for years, but the disease can eventually deplete the immune system. This virus is passed through sexual contact or through deep, penetrating bite wounds. If your cat tests positive for FIV, it is not a death sentence, but may require special precautions and medical care.

·         Feline Leukemia Virus – a potentially life threatening virus that causes chronic immune suppression, leading to frequent infection and illness. It can also result in various forms cancer. 

·         Herpesvirus and Calicivirus – highly contagious illnesses that cause fever, malaise, runny nose, and watery eyes. 

·         Panleukopenia (also known as Feline Distemper) - a life threatening disease that causes pets to suffer dehydration, diarrhea, low white blood cell count, and vomiting. 

·         Rabies - a 100% fatal disease attacking the central nervous system. Because there isn’t a cure for rabies, animals that contract the disease are euthanized. The greatest risk of keeping the pet alive is that the disease can be spread to humans.

Pet vaccination concerns

Similar to human vaccinations, pet vaccinations do carry a risk of side-effects. While negative side-effects do exist, it is important to note that your pet is statistically more likely to develop a life-threatening illness when not vaccinated, than to suffer adverse results from a vaccination. It is important to remain informed so you can ask your veterinarian the appropriate questions at your pet’s appointment, so that your pet can be vaccinated appropriately based on his or her lifestyle.

After being vaccinated, the injection site can be swollen or sore. Some pets also have a reduced appetite, fever, and experience lethargy. These side-effects should diminish over the next 24 to 48 hours. If you notice your pet’s side-effects are not subsiding, please contact our office. Very rarely, pets develop an allergy to a vaccine. Allergies can be detected within minutes of receiving a vaccination and if left untreated, can result in death. If you witness any of the following, contact our office immediately: collapse, non-stop diarrhea, continual vomiting, difficulty breathing, itching, or swelling of the legs or face. Please let your veterinarian know if your pet has experienced any issues with vaccines in the past.

Regulations regarding rabies vaccinations

While the federal government does not mandate pet vaccinations for rabies, most states implement their own laws regarding pet vaccination. Texas requires all pet dogs, cats, and ferrets to be vaccinated for rabies at appropriate intervals. Vaccination laws also vary widely from country to country, so if you plan on moving, be sure to check necessary requirements to ensure a smooth transition for your family.

If you have any questions about vaccinations or scheduling new pet vaccinations, you may contact our office at your convenience.