August 11, 2021

National Immunization Awareness Month

Author: Jennifer Houghton
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Behind the Acronyms of Dog Vaccines

August is National Immunization Awareness Month. Vaccines are given to your pets to prevent them from having a fatal, or near fatal, response to specific diseases that are highly contagious, dangerous, or both, according to Dr. Kate Creevy at Texas A&M University.

Some vaccines, like rabies shots, are required by law and others are recommended. What each pet needs is a conversation best had between your veterinarian and you.

After all, if your pet is never going to spend time at a boarding facility, you might not need to get a bordetella (or kennel cough) vaccination. Or, if your pet goes to a groomer who requires a canine influenza vaccine for all clients, you might need to get that to patronize their facility.

Core Vaccines

According to Fetch by WebMD, there are core vaccines that all pets should receive and non-core vaccines that are situational, depending on your individual circumstances.

Core vaccines include the following for both cats and dogs, except where noted:

  • rabies
  • distemper
  • parvovirus
  • hepatitis (dogs)

Cats additionally require: 

  • herpesvirus
  • calicivirus
  • panleukopenia

Lifestyle Considerations

In my personal experience, I have made specific choices based on the lifestyle my dog leads. Ginger makes trips to the country several times a year. She has a not-so-desired tendency to slurp water from puddles that could contain contaminants from wildlife. Therefore, I opted to protect her by getting a Leptospirosis vaccine. Because she does not attend daycare or congregate with other dogs, we typically pass on canine influenza. However, an outbreak in the city we live in changed our minds a few years back. We now take it periodically based on her anticipated time around other dogs (which is infrequent).

Each situation and pet is different. We encourage you to research and talk to your pet health care provider to determine what works best.

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