Vaccines are an important part of preventive care for our canine and feline friends. The most important time for vaccination protection is during kitten and puppyhood when they are most susceptible to infectious diseases. Throughout the life of your pet, ongoing vaccinations will be recommended based on the lifestyle and risks of each individual. Whenever possible, blood titers will be recommended in order to assess the level of immunity and to minimize unnecessary vaccines. Different types of vaccines provide varying duration of action depending on the type of organism for which the vaccine is made. For many viral diseases, vaccine protection lasts for many years, whereas vaccines against bacterial organisms provide protection for only one year and regular revaccination is required.
At Olney-Sandy Spring Veterinary Hospital, our goal is to customize the vaccination program for each of our patients based on their individual risk. Because lifestyles sometimes change, the environmental risk for each patient will be reevaluated at least yearly in order to provide the best current recommendations for vaccinations for your pet.
For each species there is a set of core vaccines that are recommended for every pet.
For dogs, the core vaccines include:
Rabies. Rabies is a serious, contagious, fatal disease of animals and humans. Because of the deadly nature of this disease, vaccination of dogs and cats is required by law. The law varies by state. In Maryland, rabies vaccine is required for puppies, then one year later, and every three years thereafter.
Canine distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus (known as the “distemper” or “DAP” vaccine). It is important that puppies receive this vaccine several times to protect them from these diseases until their immune system is mature. Because this vaccine is a “modified live virus vaccine”, once the immune system is competent, revaccination may not be needed in every adult, depending on their individual immune system. Vaccine or antibody titers are measured to determine if revaccination for DAP is necessary.
Non-core canine vaccines are recommended based on risk and include:
Lyme. Lyme disease is contracted from the bite of a tick infected with the organism Borellia burgdorferi. In Maryland, the deer tick or black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis is the common vector for Lyme disease. Dogs that spend time outdoors in areas where ticks are common are at risk for Lyme disease and should be vaccinated. Revaccination is needed yearly to protect against Lyme disease.
Bordetella and parainfluenza. These are two organisms that may cause infectious and contagious tracheobronchitis or respiratory infections, also know as “kennel cough” in dogs. Dogs at risk are those that are exposed to other dogs especially in boarding kennels, dog parks, dog shows or groomeries. This vaccination is very effective given by the intranasal route and requires yearly boosters.
Leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is a bacterial-like organism that infects dogs through contact with infected urine. Many other animals can carry the organism such as rats, pigs, raccoons, cattle, skunks and opossums. There are many types of leptospira that can infect dogs. Current vaccines only protect against 4 of the most common types of leptospirosis. Dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors, especially near water or moist environments are at risk for leptospirosis and should be vaccinated. This organism can also be passed to people and cause devastating disease. Yearly vaccination for dogs is required for protection.
Canine influenza. Recent regional outbreaks of canine influenza have caused concern for the spread of canine influenza. While the outbreaks appear to be controlled and limited, dogs that board or travel frequently may be at risk canine influenza and vaccination should be considered.
For cats, the core vaccines are:
Rabies. Rabies is a serious, contagious, fatal disease of animals and humans. Because of the deadly nature of the disease, vaccination of dogs and cats is required by law. The law varies by state. Similar to dogs, in Maryland, rabies vaccine is required for kittens, then at one year of age, then every three years thereafter. Cats are very sensitive to a component in some rabies vaccines called adjuvants. Adjuvants have been show to cause a type cancer in cats called vaccine-associated fibrosarcoma. Because of this, at OSSVH we only use non-adjuvanted vaccines in cats.
Feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia vaccine, also know as “feline distemper” or “FCVRP”. This is a multivalent vaccine that protects against common viruses found in cats. This vaccine is given several times to kittens until the immune system is mature, then every one to three years in adult cats, depending on their environment.
Non-core feline vaccines are recommended based on risk and include:
Feline leukemia. Feline leukemia is a highly contagious respiratory and immune-compromising virus that is contracted by contact with infected cats. Kittens that will have potential exposure to other cats, especially by going outdoors, should receive a series of feline leukemia vaccines, then yearly boosters as adults. Indoor cats with no exposure to any outside cats may not need this vaccine. At OSSVH, we use only non-adjuvanted feline leukemia vaccine.
Other vaccines are available for cats. At OSSVH, we do not currently recommend any other vaccines for most cats due to lack of efficacy or low benefit.
Please see the following links for more information: