A proper vaccination program is essential to your pet’s health. Current research suggests that pets do not require annual vaccination and certain vaccines can be administered every 3 years while others still need to be given every year. Vaccinations given to animals at the appropriate time and circumstance are of the utmost importance to preserve their health and well being. Responsible vaccine protocols have enabled us to safely and effectively protect our pets from infectious diseases. In light of this new research we are now offering our clients an extended vaccine protocol.
Core vaccines are recommended for all dogs and cats. These include rabies, distemper, and parvovirus for dogs and rabies, feline respiratory disease complex, and panleukopenia for cats. We have a 3 year vaccine available for rabies, distemper/ parvo in dogs, and rabies, respiratory disease complex/ panleukopenia in cats. Zoetis, the maker of our vaccines, has a 3 year immunization support guarantee. This means that should your pet contract a disease that your pet is protected against within 3 years of vaccine, Zoetis will pay for diagnosis and treatment.
Noncore vaccines are ones that are given dependent on the animal’s lifestyle and associated risk of exposure. These vaccines include leptospirosis, bordetella, parainfluenza, adenovirus, lyme, and canine influenza for dogs and leukemia for cats and need boostered every year.
Another option is the use of titer testing. A titer test is a simple blood test that measures the antibody levels for a particular CORE vaccine virus. A positive titer indicates that the animal is protected against the disease and vaccination is not required. Titers can be checked annually, but every 3 years is sufficient. Unfortunately, Indiana state law requires vaccination of rabies every 3 years instead of a titer test. A mercury-free rabies vaccine is used at our clinic and helps prevent adverse immune-mediated reactions. The titer test for either a dog or cat is $85 and is sent to Cornell University which takes approximately 2 weeks for results.
We will continue to require core vaccines for every patient staying in the hospital for boarding, baths, and elective procedures. A current titer (positive titer within the last 3 years) for distemper / parvo for dogs and respiratory disease complex/panleukopenia for cats will be accepted instead of a vaccine.
The protocol for vaccinating puppies and kittens is as follows:
The modified live core vaccines should be given at 9 weeks, 12 weeks, and 15 weeks of age. Afterwards, another vaccine would not be required for 3 years. Maternal antibodies remain present within puppies and kittens up to 14-16 weeks of age, but begin to wane after 6-8 weeks of age. This is why it is important to begin administering vaccines starting at 9 weeks of age. The other option available is to have core vaccines given at 9 and 12 weeks of age, and then have titer test performed at 16 weeks to determine if another booster is needed. Rabies vaccine should be given separately and no earlier than 12 weeks of age. Rabies must be boostered again in one year, but subsequent rabies vaccines can be administered every 3 years thereafter.
Do you have any questions about your pet’s health, care, or behavior? Please contact us, your Merrillville vet clinic, anytime!