The Importance Of Vaccines For Your Pet

By Dr. Karen Farnan, Veterinarian

Before vaccination was discovered, many people died of infectious diseases. Dogs and cats did, as well. Vaccinations are a wonderful way to prevent serious illnesses before they occur. For pets, it helps prevent their sickness, suffering, and in some cases the possibility of transmitting serious disease to their human family members as well.

Dog vaccinations that we recommend for our patients include rabies, distemper, parvo, leptospirosis, Lyme, Bordetella, and 2 types of canine flu. Rabies is a fatal, horrible neurologic disease which any mammal can get, including dogs, cats, humans, and bats. Bats are included on the list not just because it rhymes with cats, but exposure through bats is the most common cause of human Rabies fatalities in the United States. Dogs and cats can also be exposed as bats sometimes fly into people’s homes; you don’t have to live in a haunted house for that to happen! Rabies vaccination is required for all dogs and cats in the state of Maryland, and with good reason.

Canine distemper virus causes pneumonia, seizures, and used to kill many puppies and dogs before the vaccine became available. The same is true for parvo virus, which causes severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease of mammals, including dogs and people, which causes kidney and/or liver failure and can be fatal if it is not diagnosed and treated.

Lyme disease is very common in this area. It causes fevers and joint problems, and can also cause other problems including kidney disease in dogs which is fatal, and heartbreaking.

The respiratory diseases round out the canine vaccines: Bordetella to protect against one of the most common types of kennel cough, and canine flu, which has caused a number of severe outbreaks throughout the country.

Cats have a shorter list of recommended vaccines: rabies and feline distemper for indoor cats, and for cats that go outdoors those 2 plus feline leukemia vaccines. Rabies was covered above under dogs.

Feline distemper vaccine includes 3 diseases: feline distemper virus which causes pneumonia, gastroenteritis and is generally fatal, and 2 upper respiratory viruses which are so common in cats, causing sneezing, nose and eye mucous, and can be severe in some cases and chronic in others.

Feline leukemia virus suppresses the immune system and causes anemias and cancers.

So, keep your pets healthy and happy, schedule a checkup and get their vaccines updated with us at Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital, where the health of you and your pets is so important to us!

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