Vaccines are a key part of any pet’s routine healthcare plan, as they can effectively prevent serious diseases and keep your furry friend healthy and happy for years to come. More than that though, vaccines for your pets can ensure that your family members are also protected from diseases that animals can potentially carry into the home, such as rabies and hepatitis.

Though many Americans are still hesitant to vaccinate their children much less their pets, the serums carry very little health risk but exponential health benefits. Risks for certain diseases vary from city to city across the country, and may even fluctuate within the same city limits. For this reason, it is so important to work closely with your veterinarian to determine which shots are important for your pet and how often they should be administered.

To ensure that your cat, dog, rabbit or other pet receives the right vaccinations at the right time though, it is important that you work with a Connecticut veterinary clinic that specializes in pet immunizations and that is knowledgeable in just what your canine, feline or rabbit needs to maintain optimal health.

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Health Risks Associated With Vaccines

If you are worried about injecting your pet because of possible health risks, know that the chance of your dog contracting some serious ailment due to a vaccine is slim to none. While all medical procedures come with a certain degree of risk, you are risking your pet’s health by choosing not to vaccinate them at all. However, talk to your veterinarian prior to scheduling your pet’s yearly shots about what they feel is best for your animal based on their breed and existing health conditions. Know that your veterinarian is just as concerned with your pet’s health as you are and will not put them at any unnecessary risks.

Also keep in mind that negative reactions to immunizations are rare, and if they do occur, will result in pain or swelling. If this should happen, you should bring your pet back to your vet right away so that they can counteract the reaction with medication.

Understanding Pet Vaccinations

Before you schedule your pet’s shots, it’s important to understand that there are two types of vaccinations that your pet can receive: core vaccinations and non-core vaccinations. Core vaccinations protect your pet against diseases commonly contracted by their species and breed. For instance, a dog might receive the Parvo and Rabies shot, while a rabbit might receive one to prevent Haemorrhagic Disease Virus. Such injections are essential for your pet’s particular species in order to prevent diseases that are easily transferrable and/or fatal.

Non-core vaccines, on the other hand, are sera that protect your pet against diseases that are environmentally driven, such as Lyme disease, kennel cough and leptospirosis. Your veterinarian will discuss with you the risks associated with your environment and ensure that your pet is adequately protected against possible diseases.

Vaccines for Dogs

close up of veterinarian doctor with syringe making vaccine injection to dachshund dog at vet clinicThough the immunization needs of each breed of dog will vary, veterinarians strongly encourage dog owners to consider the following vaccinations for their dog:

  • Rabies, to prevent a fatal disease that attacks the nervous system.
  • Hepatitis, a viral disease that attacks the liver and organs.
  • Distemper, a viral disease that affects the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts and the nervous system, and that is often fatal.
  • Parvo, a disease that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea and that can be fatal.
  • Bordatella, a disease that contributes to kennel cough.
  • Lyme Disease, a disease spread by ticks that leads to arthritis and kidney failure.
  • Leptospirosis, a viral disease that affects the kidney and liver and that can be fatal.
  • Canine Influenza H3N8, an extremely contagious condition in dogs that causes flu-like symptoms.

Sera to watch out for include Giardia, which may prevent the shedding of cysts but does not prevent infection, and Coronavirus, which doesn’t pose any significant health risks except for causing diarrhea.

Vaccines for Cats

The annual pet vaccinations that the United Veterinary Center recommend giving to cats are:

  • Rabies, to prevent a fatal disease that attacks the nervous system.
  • Feline Panleukopenia, a parvovirus such as that presented in canines and that can be fatal for cats, especially young kittens. This disease is often referred to as feline distemper.
  • Feline Calicivirus and Feline Rhinotracheitis, two diseases that are commonly responsible for upper respiratory infections in cats. Most cats become exposed to these diseases at some point, which is why it is so important they receive these two in particular.

Kittens should get started with their shots as early as six weeks of age. If you are concerned about your kitten receiving multiple injections at one time, there is a new form of immunization that combines the feline panleukopenia, feline calicivirus and feline rhinotracheitis all in one. For the first 16 weeks of your kittens life, this vaccine should be administered every 3 to 4 weeks, and then repeated yearly thereafter. Rabies should be given between 8 and 12 weeks of age, then repeated every year.

Cats, like dogs, may receive non-core vaccines as well. These can prevent cats from such diseases as:

  • Feline AIDS
  • Feline Leukemia
  • Bordetella Bronchiseptica
  • Chlamydophila Felis
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis

What shots your cat will need all depends on the breed, age and where you are located. A vet will assess your cat’s lifestyle and health and make informed decisions about what your feline needs to maintain optimal health without putting them at risk.

Vaccines for Rabbits

Rabbits are susceptible to common diseases that are also fatal. Because of that, rabbits should be immunized beginning as early as 4 weeks and then every 6 months after that in order to maintain immunity through life. Core vaccinations our veterinary clinic recommends for your rabbit include:

Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (Rabbit Calicivirus) and Myxomatosis, diseases that were introduced to control the rabbit population in Australia. HDV usually escalates within 1-3 days once contracted and is almost always fatal. Myxomatosis can cause immense and drawn-out suffering for your bunny and is also extremely fatal. While there is currently no vaccine to protect against Myxomatosis, there is one to protect against haemorrhagic disease virus, which your rabbit should receive.

Rabbits have the potential to live a long and healthy life (up to 9 years, on average), but only if they are properly immunized. Talk to your vet about other possible serums your pet bunny might need, in addition to the HDV.

Responsible Pet Vaccination Services in Connecticut

At the United Veterinary Center, our pet vaccination professionals are concerned for your pet’s health and wellness just as much as you are. When you bring your pet cat, dog or rabbit in to see us, we will make informed recommendations about what shots your pet might need in order to live a long and happy life. Call us today to schedule your pet’s initial set of vaccinations.