Pet Wellness & Vaccinations

One of the most common visits to your veterinarian is for routine vaccinations. All pets should be vaccinated annually.


Canine Vaccines

Listed below are the diseases dogs and puppies are commonly vaccinated against.

  • Distemper – is spread by contact with bodily secretions of infected animals and by airborne viral particles. A dog that does not die from central nervous system complications may suffer a lifetime of neurological problems. Symptoms of this deadly disease include discharge from the eyes and nose, high fever, and convulsions.
  • Hepatitis – Hepatitis is a highly contagious virus spread by either direct contact with an infected animal or contact with contaminated objects such as food bowls and feces. Hepatitis affects the liver and kidneys causing fever, lethargy, decreased appetite and jaundice. There is no cure for canine hepatitis. Although a dog may recover from the disease, it may be left with serious organ damage.
  • Parainfluenza – Although usually not life-threatening, this highly contagious disease causes upper-respiratory distress. The parainfluenza virus is contracted by direct contact or airborne transmission. It is frequently contracted at kennels, grooming facilities, and dog shows.
  • Parvo – The parvo virus is transmitted through the feces of infected dogs. It is easily spread by the hair and feet of infected dogs, contaminated cages, and people’s shoes. The parvo virus attacks the intestinal lining, causing it to slough off. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. The diarrhea is often fluid and bloody. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance occur quickly in a dog with parvo. Bacteria can also enter the bloodstream through the weakened intestinal lining causing septicemia, or blood infection. Puppies under six months of age are especially susceptible to this fatal disease.
  • Rabies – Rabies is a very serious disease transmitted through the saliva of infected animals, usually through a bite wound. Although any mammal can contract rabies, raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, and bats are the main reservoirs of the disease. Rabies affects the central nervous system, producing symptoms such as erratic behavior, aggression, seizures, inability to swallow, and paralysis of the jaw and throat. Eventually paralysis spreads to other parts of the body and the animal enters a coma and dies. This fatal disease is contagious to humans so it is very important to vaccinate yearly for rabies. It is Georgia law that all dogs, cats, and ferrets receive a yearly rabies vaccine.
  • Bordatella – Bordatella, or Kennel Cough, occurs when the parainfluenza virus and the bacteria Bordatella bronchiseptica work together. Your dog does not have to visit a kennel to contract bordatella. It can be transmitted through the air or by any object an infected dog has come in contact with. The vaccine is administered as nasal drops that can protect your dog for a year from the dry cough and nasal discharge that characterizes bordatella.
  • Lyme – Lyme disease is spread by deer ticks that attach themselves to a dog. A tick must remain attached to a dog’s skin for two days in order to transmit Lyme disease. Symptoms include swollen lymph glands, lameness, inflamed joints, loss of appetite, heart disease, and kidney disease. The Lyme vaccine is suggested for those dogs that live in areas in which the disease is endemic.
  • Leptospirosis - Leptospirosis is transmitted when your pet comes in contact with contaminated water or urine. This disease is transmittable to humans and causes major liver damage. If your pets lifestyle includes time in the woods or swimming in lakes and ponds they should be vaccinated for Leptospirosis.

Feline Vaccines

Listed below are the diseases cats and kittens are commonly vaccinated against.

  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis – Feline viral rhinotracheitis is a respiratory disease spread by the coughing and sneezing of infected cats. Symptoms include sneezing, discharge from the eyes and nose, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Kittens and old cats are more susceptible and the disease is usually more severe in these cats. Death is not common from feline viral rhinotracheitis but it can permanently damage the nasal passages causing a lifetime of sneezing.
  • Calcivirus – is another respiratory disease spread by the coughing and sneezing of other cats. Symptoms include oral ulcers, cold-like symptoms, fever, and loss of appetite. Calcivirus may also lead to pneumonia. This disease is usually not fatal but can be dangerous to kittens.
  • Panleukopenia – Sometimes known as “feline distemper”, Panleukopenia produces similar symptoms to canine distemper but is not caused by the same virus. Symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea which may be bloody. The disease is spread by contact with the urine or feces of an infected cat or by contact with contaminated objects such a food bowls, shoes, and litter boxes. The disease is almost always fatal in kittens and is very dangerous to adults as well.
  • Chlamydia – Chlamydia is a bacterial upper respiratory disease. The main symptom is conjunctivitis, an abnormal eye discharge. Other symptoms include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and difficulty breathing. Chlamydia is spread by direct or indirect contact with the upper respiratory secretions of infected cats. Although the disease is not usually severe, complete recovery may not occur.

The five vaccines above are commonly combined and given as one. This combination of vaccines is frequently referred to as the feline distemper combination. It is also known as FVRCPC for the letters in each disease it protects against.

  • Rabies – Rabies is a very serious disease transmitted through the saliva of infected animals, usually through a bite wound. Although any mammal can contract rabies, raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, and bats are the main reservoirs of the disease. Rabies affects the central nervous system, producing symptoms such as erratic behavior, aggression, seizures, inability to swallow, and paralysis of the jaw and throat. Eventually paralysis spreads to other parts of the body and the animal enters a coma and dies. This fatal disease is contagious to humans so it is very important to vaccinate yearly for rabies. It is Georgia law that all dogs, cats, and ferrets receive a yearly rabies vaccine.
  • Feline leukemia – This disease is responsible for more feline deaths than any other disease. The virus is transmitted through infected saliva and spreads to the lymph nodes, bone marrow, and intestinal tissue. Feline leukemia inhibits the immune system leaving cats open to secondary diseases and cancers which they will eventually die from. There is no cure for feline leukemia and it is difficult to predict how long an infected cat will live. The life span of a cat with feline leukemia may be weeks or even years. 50% of infected cats remain alive after two years while only 15% of infected cats remain alive after four years. Outside cats are particularly susceptible to feline leukemia.

Vaccinating Puppies and Kittens

Starting at 6 weeks of age, puppies and kittens are vaccinated every 3 weeks until they are 4 1/2 months of age.

Why is it important to give 1st time adult vaccinations boosters 3 weeks later?

When initiating vaccination protection, it takes two antigenic exposures to fully alert the immune system of the disease organism. Except for Rabies, a one-time dose. Thus when first protecting a pet from Lymes, Distemper, Parvo, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Feline Distemper, Leukemia, or Feline Aids the vaccination needs to be given twice to get protection. The optimum time period between the two vaccinations is 3 to 4 weeks. After initial immunization, only one vaccine is required annually.

Why is Bordatella given twice a year instead of annually?

Research shows that Bordetella protection lasts only 90 to 120 days, requiring 3 to 4 boosters annually for continual protection. For convenience, most pet owners get the Bordetella protection only twice annually. Many dogs get the protection more frequently if they frequently come in contact with other dogs such as at groom shops, city parks, boarding kennels, etc. Lymes disease, spread by ticks and becoming more prevalent every year in our area making annual immunization an important protection.