Every pet is unique, and every pet receives an individual vaccine recommendation.
Distemper is contracted by casual contact or sharing living quarters. The virus is transmitted through the air and does not require direct contact between individuals.
Generally causing severe respiratory disease, gastrointestinal distress, white blood cell destruction and sometimes neurologic disease, canine distemper is frequently fatal if not treated. With aggressive treatment, some dogs can survive infection.
Hepatitis caused by Adenovirus type-I and type-II is a contagious disease in dogs which can be fatal. It is spread by contact with bodily fluid of an infected animal such as urine, feces, saliva, blood or sputum. Adenoviruses can survive for many days in the environment at room temperature and can be spread by petting and touching, sharing food dishes or utensils, sharing bedding and using common elimination areas.
Parainfluenza is spread by casual contact with an infected individual, and can be spread through the air. It generally causes respiratory disease but has been linked to intestinal and neurologic symptoms as well. Parainfluenza can be fatal.
Parvovirus is perhaps the most commonly discussed viral disease in companion dogs. Parvo is shed in the feces and can survive in the environment for years and can be spread on hairs and clothing. Most disinfectants do not kill the parvo virus. Parvo infection is frequently fatal in young puppies, but aggressive treatment can improve the prognosis.
We recommend all dogs and puppies be vaccinated with a DHPP core vaccine a minimum of three times as a puppy, at one year of age and every three years thereafter.
Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccine
Bordetella or “kennel cough” is a common, highly contagious respiratory disease of dogs. It is similar to whooping cough in humans, and is caused by a combination of viral and bacterial agents.
Bordetella infection causes a severe cough which can last for several weeks, sometimes causing pneumonia.
The vaccination for Bordetella is effective in preventing most cases, however occasionally even a vaccinated dog can become infected by an unusual strain.
We recommend vaccinating dogs for Bordetella based on the risk of exposure. All puppies should be vaccinated with a Bordetella vaccine prior to puppy class, boarding, and grooming. We administer an oral vaccine, which gives rapid immunity and lasts for 1 year. The vaccine should be repeated every 6 months for pets who visit boarding kennels, training facilities, dog shows, dog parks or daycare facilities on a regular basis. The vaccine should be repeated once a year for dogs with a reduced risk of exposure.
Leptospirosis is spread between animals by direct or indirect contact. It infects many different species including domestic animals, wild animals and sometimes humans. In Washington, Leptospirosis is commonly spread by rats. Leptospirosis infection leads to liver disease and/or kidney disease. If liver or kidney failure occurs, Leptospirosis can be fatal.
There are many strains of Leptospirosis. We recommend vaccinating for the 4 most common varieties. The vaccine is very effective.
We recommend puppies be vaccinated three times and annually thereafter.
FVRCP Core Vaccine – Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia and Chlamydia.
Rhinotracheitis and Calicivirus are two types of feline herpes virus. At the time of infection, they commonly cause upper and lower respiratory infections, eye infections and oral ulcers. The respiratory infections can lead to pneumonia in severe cases.
Cats who recover from the acute infection frequently become carriers. They are infected with the virus for life and can infect other individuals. Commonly these cats will have flareups throughout their lives.
Chlamydia causes and complicates conjunctivitis in cats. It is commonly present with the feline herpesviruses.
These viruses as well as Chlamydia are transmitted through casual contact and can be airborne. The herpesviruses can survive up to a week in the environment and Chlamydia survives for several days outside the host.
We recommend all cats receive FVRCP core vaccines as a series of three followed by a two year immunization, then every three years thereafter.
Feline Leukemia Vaccine
Feline Leukemia virus is transmitted through close casual contact such as mutual grooming, bites, scratches, sharing food, water and litter areas.
Cats who are infected with Feline Leukemia can live healthy lives for many years, however these cats are constantly shedding virus and can spread the infection to other individuals, even if they do not appear sick themselves.
Feline Leukemia causes suppression of the immune system. Feline Leukemia will eventually be fatal to any infected cat.
We recommend all kittens be tested for Feline Leukemia, then vaccinated twice as kittens. Cats who have access to the outdoors (even for very limited periods) should be revaccinated annually and tested annually.
Cats who live strictly indoors and never leave the house can be tested and vaccinated as kittens and at one year of age. If the cat is later permitted outdoors, it should be tested and vaccinated every year.
FIV – Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
FIV is similar to HIV in humans. Cats can be infected with FIV for months before tests will show the infection, and can live for years without any visible illness caused by the virus. FIV is most commonly transmitted by fight wounds – bites and scratches.
FIV suppresses the immune system. Cats who are infected with FIV are contagious to other cats even if they are apparently healthy.
We recommend all kittens be tested for FIV and any cat with outdoor access should be retested every year.
There is a vaccine available for FIV but it is only recommended in very specific circumstances. Your veterinarian can make a recommendation.
Rabies Vaccination for Dogs and Cats
Rabies can be transmitted to humans and is considered a serious human health concern. There is no way to test if a living animal has been exposed to rabies. If an unvaccinated dog or cat is suspected to have been exposed to rabies, the animal will be ordered destroyed by King County to facilitate testing for rabies. In Washington, Rabies is carried by bats.
We recommend all dogs and cats be vaccinated against Rabies. An annual vaccine is given, then re-vaccination should be done every 3 years in Washington. Other regions may require more frequent vaccination.
Other Zoonotic Diseases
Zoonotic diseases are diseases which can be transmitted from other species to humans. The most common zoonoses in pets are parasites.
The most common zoonotic parasite in dogs and cats is roundworm. Virtually all puppies and kittens are infected with roundworm. The infection is easily detected with a stool specimen and is easy to treat. When transmitted to humans, roundworm infection can be very serious and can even cause blindness.
In the Pacific Northwest, roundworm eggs can live for years in the environment and are very difficult to eradicate.
We recommend fecal samples be tested for all puppies and kittens, and retesting should be done annually.
In addition, giardia is very common in our region and can be transmitted to humans, but this route of transmission is uncommon. Giardia causes bloody diarrhea and vomiting, and is transmitted by pets and wildlife through drinking contaminated water. It is often called “beaver fever” or “hiker’s sickness.”
Children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk of contracting zoonotic diseases from pets.