The health and well being of your pet is threatened by the presence of powerful disease causing organisms (viruses and bacteria) in our environment. These organisms can make your pet very sick, and in some cases even cause their death! Fortunately, our veterinary team have very effective means of protection against these diseases in the form of immunizations.

Immunizations work by exposing your pet’s immune system to a modified form of the organism which allows your pet’s body to produce protective antibodies which can neutralize the organisms when they become exposed to them. After the first immunization, the body creates temporary immunity that lasts for about 3-4 weeks. If a second exposure occurs between 2-4 weeks after the first, the body changes the type of antibodies it produces to develop longer term protection which usually lasts about one year for most vaccines. This is why most immunizations require a booster given within 2-4 weeks after the first exposure.

Annual boosters are then required to maintain immunity, but in this case only a single dose is required.

Why do puppies and kittens require so many boosters?

Puppies and kittens have immature immune systems when born. They can not respond to immunization until 6 weeks of age or older. During the period between birth and 12 weeks, they may be protected by antibodies they got from their mothers (maternal antibodies) through the uterus or the first milk (colostrum). Unfortunately, this only works if the mother had good immunity. While the maternal antibodies protect the young animals, they also interfere with the effectiveness of the immunizations.

We know that by 12 weeks, most maternal antibodies have been eliminated from the body and the pet’s immune system will respond to immunization. Given this information, we take the most conservative approach to protecting our young pets:

  • Begin immunization at 6-8 weeks of age (to protect the pet that has no maternal antibodies)
  • Repeat immunization boosters every 3 weeks until the pet is 16 weeks of age. This ensures that they will receive at least two boosters during the time that we know they are likely to respond to them.
  • For certain high risk pets that have problems developing immunity to certain diseases, particularly parvovirus, repeat immunization at 6 months, 9 months and 12 months

In order to work properly immunizations must:

  • be properly handled,
  • properly administered
  • given at the appropriate intervals.

Our veterinarians strongly suggest that immunization be done in a veterinary hospital by trained individuals! In this setting we know that the products have been properly handled from the time of manufacture to the time of administration (maintained at the appropriate temperature and humidity) and that they will be administered properly. In the event that your pet has an adverse reaction to the vaccine, our trained staff is available to render first aid and assistance.

We recommend immunizations against the following diseases:

Immunizations for Dogs

Canine Distemper Causes upper respiratory symptoms, pneumonia, diarrhea, neurologic problems and is most often fatal.
Canine Hepatitis Causes liver disease which leads to vomiting, diarrhea and possibly death.
Leptospirosis A bacterial disease that leads to kidney failure
Parainfluenza A viral disease leading to upper respiratory signs, coughing and sometimes pneumonia. Along with Bordetella Bacteria is forms the “Kennel Cough” complex.
Parvovirus A viral disease causing severe diarrhea and vomiting. If left untreated most pets will die from it, however with hospitalized treatment the prognosis is reasonably good.
Coronavirus A viral disease that causes gastrointestinal signs of vomiting and diarrhea similar to parvovirus but not as dangerous
Lymes “Borrellia” Lymes disease is caused by a bacteria that is transmitted to the dog by way of a Tick bite. It causes arthritis and kidney problems. All dogs exposed to ticks should be vaccinated.
Rabies A fatal viral disease that effects the nervous system. Rabies can be transmitted to humans.

Immunizations for Cats

Feline Rhinotracheitis A viral disease that causes upper respiratory disease and possible pneumonia.
Calicivirus An upper respiratory virus that causes ulceration of the tongue and may lead to death if untreated
Panleukopenia A viral disease that causes severe depression of the immune system, pneumonia, diarrhea, and death
Leukemia Feline Leukemia is a viral disease that can cause cancer (leukemia and lymphosarcoma) in cats as well as make them sick by depressing the immune system.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis A viral disease that can cause the accumulation of fluid in the chest cavity or abdomen and is invariably fatal (Not currently recommended due to lack of efficacy)
Rabies A fatal viral disease that effects the nervous system. Rabies can be transmitted to humans.