Keeping their vaccines up to date is one of the easiest ways to help your pet live a long, healthy life, and vaccines are a crucial part of your pet’s comprehensive health care plan. Our Heritage Veterinary Clinic team wants to provide information about what diseases are combated when you vaccinate your pet.
Diseases combated by core dog vaccines
Based on exposure risk, disease severity, or transmissibility to humans, core vaccines are considered vital to every pet. Core dog vaccines include:
- Canine parvovirus (CPV) — CPV is a highly contagious viral disease that causes acute gastrointestinal illness, with puppies and unvaccinated dogs at highest risk. The virus is spread through direct contact with an infected dog or fecal-contaminated objects, and once infection occurs, the virus attacks rapidly dividing cells, such as those found in the tonsils, bone marrow, and gastrointestinal tract. Signs include fever, lethargy, inappetence, vomiting, and severe, bloody diarrhea.
- Distemper — Distemper is caused by a highly contagious paramyxovirus that is spread through direct contact with an infected dog or contaminated objects, through airborne exposure, or through the placenta. Once infection occurs, the virus attacks multiple body systems, causing widespread illness. Signs include fever, nasal discharge, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and brain and spinal cord inflammation.
- Infectious canine hepatitis (ICH) — ICH is caused by an adenovirus, and transmitted through direct contact with an infected dog or contaminated objects. In the mild form, signs include decreased appetite, depression, cough, nasal discharge, and a mild fever. Some dogs develop cloudy eyes one to two weeks after the infection clears. In severe cases, usually in puppies, signs include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, head and neck swelling, and jaundice.
- Canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV) — CPIV is caused by a highly contagious ribonucleic acid virus that causes respiratory disease and is an important pathogen in the canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD) complex (i.e., kennel cough). The virus is spread through direct contact with an infected dog or contaminated objects, and airborne exposure. Signs include fever, cough, and nasal discharge.
- Rabies — Rabies is a deadly virus that is secreted in saliva and attacks the nervous system, and is usually transmitted through an infected animal’s bite. Signs include aggression, excessive drooling, incoordination, paralysis, and seizures. The disease is almost always fatal once signs are visible.
Diseases combated by core cat vaccines
Core vaccines for cats include:
- Feline panleukopenia — Also known as feline distemper, this disease is caused by feline parvovirus, which attacks rapidly dividing cells in the bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract, and the developing fetus. Cats shed the virus in their urine, feces, and nasal secretions, and infection occurs when a susceptible cat contacts an infected cat’s materials or fleas. Signs include fever, lethargy, inappetence, vomiting, severe diarrhea, and nasal discharge.
- Feline calicivirus — Feline calicivirus causes upper respiratory infections and oral disease in cats. Infected cats shed the virus in their saliva, tears, and nasal secretions, and a susceptible cat becomes infected when they contact these materials. Signs include sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, nose and eye discharge, and ulcers in and around the cat’s mouth.
- Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR) — FVR is caused by feline herpesvirus type 1 (FHV-1), which infected cats shed in their saliva, tears, and nasal secretions, and in turn infect a susceptible cat who contacts these materials. Signs include sneezing, nasal and ocular discharge, and conjunctivitis.
- Rabies — Rabies is a deadly viral disease that attacks the neurological system.
Diseases combated by optional dog vaccines
Optional (i.e., non-core) vaccines are those administered based on your pet’s geographic location and lifestyle, and include:
- Bordetella bronchiseptica — B. bronchiseptica is a bacterium associated with kennel cough in dogs that is transmitted through direct contact with infected dogs or contaminated objects and causes respiratory disease. Signs include a loud cough, nasal discharge, and wheezing.
- Leptospirosis — Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is usually transmitted by swimming in or drinking urine-contaminated water. Signs include fever, muscle pain, increased thirst and urination, jaundice, and inflammation inside the eye.
- Lyme disease — Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by Borrelia burgdorferi that is transmitted when an infected tick stays attached for at least 36 hours. Signs include fever, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes, and joint pain.
- Canine Influenza virus (CIV) — CIV is a highly contagious disease spread by contacting infected dogs or contaminated objects. Signs include fever, lethargy, nasal discharge, and cough.
Diseases combated by optional cat vaccines
Optional (i.e., non-core) vaccines for cats include:
- Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) — FeLV is shed in an infected cat’s saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and milk. Infection typically occurs from bite wounds or during mutual grooming. The virus attacks the cat’s immune system, decreasing their ability to fight infection, and is the most common cause of cancer in cats. Signs include weight loss, poor coat condition, enlarged lymph nodes, fever, recurrent infections, and persistent diarrhea.
- Bordetella bronchiseptica — B. bronchiseptica is a bacterium transmitted in cats through contact with an infected cat or contaminated objects, causing respiratory disease. Signs include sneezing, cough, fever, and nasal and ocular discharge.
- Chlamydophila felis — C. felis is a bacterium that causes conjunctivitis in cats and is spread through direct contact. Signs include red, tearing eyes, and sometimes sneezing and nasal discharge.
- Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) — FIV attacks the cat’s immune system and is primarily spread through an infected cat’s bite wounds. Signs include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and lethargy. As the disease progresses, the cat develops chronic or recurrent infections, severe dental disease, and weight loss.
You can easily safeguard your pet against these concerning diseases by keeping them up to date on their vaccines. If you would like to schedule a vaccine appointment for your pet, contact our Heritage Veterinary Clinic team, and let us ensure they are protected.