Preventing Common Diseases in Dogs

  • Canine Parvovirus: This highly contagious virus can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, dehydration, and even death, especially in puppies. Vaccination is the frontline defense.
  • Distemper: Distemper affects multiple organ systems, leading to respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological issues. Vaccination is vital to prevent this devastating disease.
  • Canine Hepatitis: Vaccination safeguards dogs from this viral infection, which can result in liver and kidney damage.
    Rabies: In many areas, rabies vaccination is legally mandated to protect public health.
  • Non-core vaccines for dogs, such as those for Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Leptospira bacteria, are available based on individual risk factors.

Preventing Common Diseases in Cats

  • Panleukopenia (Feline Distemper): This highly contagious and often fatal disease weakens a cat’s immune system, causing severe illness and death. Vaccination is critical for protection.
  • Feline Calicivirus and Feline Herpesvirus (Rhinotracheitis): These respiratory viruses can lead to severe upper respiratory symptoms. Vaccination helps prevent these illnesses.
  • Rabies: Vaccination is vital for the safety of both cats and humans.
  • Non-core vaccines for cats, like those for feline leukemia virus, Bordetella, Chlamydophila felis, and feline immunodeficiency virus, may be recommended based on individual risk factors.

Our experienced veterinary team at Bliss Animal Hospital will work closely with you to create a personalized vaccination plan that suits your pet’s unique needs.

Pet Vaccination Schedule FAQ

Consulting with your veterinarian is paramount to determine the appropriate vaccine schedule tailored to your lifestyle and your dog’s specific risk factors.
Rabies, primarily transmitted through the saliva of infected animals such as skunks, raccoons, coyotes, and foxes, poses a significant threat to unvaccinated animals. Symptoms include muscle spasms, paralysis, and ultimately, death. Most states legally mandate rabies vaccination for dogs due to its lethal nature and ease of transmission. Unless advised otherwise by your veterinarian for medical reasons, all dogs should receive the rabies vaccine.
The DHPP vaccine, encompassing distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and parvovirus, is crucial for canine health. Distemper affects the respiratory and nervous systems, leading to coughing, sneezing, and neurological complications, often fatal. Adenovirus vaccination safeguards against CAV-2, a causative agent of kennel cough, and liver infections caused by CAV-1. Parainfluenza protection is included, while parvovirus vaccination is essential for puppies, as it causes severe symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and fatality.
Referred to as the “kennel cough vaccination,” the Bordetella vaccine guards against specific strains of kennel cough. Although not always fatal, Bordetella induces severe coughing and vomiting and spreads rapidly among dogs, especially in communal settings like boarding facilities or daycares.
Canine influenza, while less common than Bordetella, is highly contagious and can result in kennel cough. Dogs frequently in communal environments should consider this vaccination to mitigate transmission risks.
Leptospirosis, transmitted through contaminated water or mud by rodents and wildlife, causes symptoms like vomiting, lethargy, increased thirst, and fever. While treatable, the lepto vaccine is recommended for dogs in high-risk areas with stagnant water and wildlife.
Commonly administered in regions with high Lyme disease prevalence, the Lyme vaccine protects against joint inflammation, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, and other symptoms. Flea and tick prevention are essential, but the Lyme vaccine provides an additional layer of protection in areas with increased disease incidence.

Ensuring your dog receives these essential vaccinations can significantly reduce the risk of contracting severe and potentially life-threatening diseases. Always follow your veterinarian’s recommendations and stay informed about the prevalence of diseases in your area.

Vaccinations play a vital role in safeguarding the health of cats against various infectious diseases. Here are the most common cat vaccinations recommended by veterinarians:

FVRCP Vaccine
The FVRCP vaccine, a core vaccine, combines three essential vaccinations into a single dose, providing comprehensive protection against:

  • Feline rhinotracheitis virus/herpesvirus 1 (FVR/FHV-1)
  • Feline calicivirus (FCV)
  • Feline panleukopenia (FPV)
Recommended every three years for indoor adult cats, the FVRCP vaccine may be administered annually for outdoor, indoor/outdoor, young, or senior cats based on individual risk factors and veterinarian recommendations. Booster shots may be advisable for cats facing stressful situations, such as boarding.
Rabies vaccination is a core component of feline preventive care, crucial for protecting both the cat and public health. Administered annually or every three years, depending on state regulations and vaccine brand, this vaccine guards against a fatal viral infection that can be transmitted to humans through bites from infected animals. Cats can contract rabies from infected mammals and subsequently transmit the virus to other animals and humans. Given the zoonotic nature of rabies, it is imperative to ensure cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.
FCV encompasses various viral strains causing upper respiratory infections, oral ulcerations, chronic gingivitis/stomatitis, and systemic diseases in cats. Some strains may lead to hair loss, crusting, hepatitis, and even death. Vaccination against FCV is essential in protecting cats from these debilitating conditions.
Feline herpesvirus, also known as FVR/FHV-1, causes severe upper respiratory infections in cats, leading to symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, discharge, conjunctivitis, and oral ulceration. After initial infection, the virus enters a latency period in nerve cells, reactivating during periods of stress and causing recurrent symptoms.
The feline leukemia virus (FeLV) vaccine is core for kittens, protecting against a viral infection transmitted through close contact with infected cats. FeLV can lead to various associated conditions, including lymphoma, anemia, and immunosuppression. Vaccination against FeLV is recommended as part of comprehensive preventive care for kittens, with subsequent vaccinations tailored to individual risk factors and veterinarian assessment.
Also known as feline parvovirus, FPV is a highly contagious viral disease with a high mortality rate in kittens. Symptoms include decreased energy, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased susceptibility to secondary infections. Vaccination against FPV is crucial in preventing the spread of this deadly virus among feline populations.

Ensuring cats receive these essential vaccinations according to veterinary recommendations is crucial in maintaining their health and well-being while reducing the risk of infectious diseases. Always consult with a veterinarian to determine the most appropriate vaccination schedule based on your cat’s individual needs and lifestyle factors.

CORE VACCINES: Recommended for all dogs irrespective of lifestyle, unless there is a specific medical reason not to vaccinate.

NONCORE VACCINES: Recommended for some dogs based on lifestyle, geographic location, and risk of exposure.


For more information, please visit the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine vaccination guidelines.

Core vaccines are recommended for all cats due to the severity of the diseases they prevent. Non-core vaccines are recommended based on factors such as lifestyle, environment, and individual risk factors.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pet Vaccination

Vaccination is crucial for pets as it helps to prevent a variety of infectious diseases that can be potentially fatal or cause serious health complications. By stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies against specific pathogens, vaccines effectively prepare your pet’s body to fight off infections, reducing the risk of illness and the spread of disease within the animal population.
Vaccines work by introducing a harmless form of a disease-causing agent (such as a virus or bacteria) into the body. This stimulates the immune system to recognize and produce antibodies against the specific pathogen, creating immunity without causing the actual disease. If the vaccinated pet is later exposed to the real pathogen, its immune system can quickly recognize and neutralize it, preventing illness.
While vaccines greatly reduce the likelihood of your pet contracting specific diseases, they do not offer 100% protection. Factors such as the type of vaccine, the health status of the pet, and the presence of maternal antibodies can influence the effectiveness of vaccination. However, vaccinated pets are much less likely to develop severe illness if exposed to the targeted pathogens.
The vaccinations your pet requires depend on various factors including its species, age, lifestyle, and geographic location. Generally, pets receive a combination of core and non-core vaccinations to protect against both common and region-specific diseases.
Vaccines are typically administered via injection, either subcutaneously (under the skin) or intramuscularly (into the muscle). Some vaccines may also be given orally or intranasally, depending on the specific vaccine and the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Puppies and kittens receive a series of vaccinations to ensure that they develop a strong immune response and long-lasting immunity. This series, usually starting at around 6-8 weeks of age, helps compensate for the presence of maternal antibodies that can interfere with the effectiveness of vaccines in very young animals.
Antibody titers measure the concentration of antibodies in the blood, indicating the level of immunity against specific diseases. While antibody titers can provide information about a pet’s immune status, they do not always correlate with protection from disease. In most cases, vaccinations are still recommended based on current veterinary guidelines, as they offer more reliable and predictable protection against infectious diseases.
While vaccines are generally safe and well-tolerated, there is a small risk of adverse reactions, including mild swelling or discomfort at the injection site, lethargy, or allergic reactions. Serious adverse reactions are rare but can occur, which is why it’s essential to discuss your pet’s individual risk factors with your veterinarian before vaccination.
Common side effects of vaccines in dogs may include:

  • Mild swelling or tenderness at the injection site
  • Lethargy
  • Mild fever
  • Decreased appetite
  • Rarely, allergic reactions such as facial swelling, hives, or difficulty breathing
Vaccine-preventable diseases in dogs and cats include:

  • Canine parvovirus
  • Canine distemper
  • Canine adenovirus (hepatitis)
  • Rabies
  • Feline panleukopenia (feline distemper)
  • Feline calicivirus
  • Feline herpesvirus (rhinotracheitis)
  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
Coverage for vaccines varies depending on the pet insurance provider and the specific policy. Some pet insurance plans may cover vaccinations as part of preventive care, while others may offer optional coverage for vaccinations as an add-on or rider. It’s essential to review your pet insurance policy carefully to understand what is covered and any applicable limitations or exclusions.
The frequency of vaccinations for dogs depends on factors such as the type of vaccine, the pet’s age, lifestyle, and risk factors. Generally, core vaccines are administered as a series of initial doses followed by booster vaccinations every 1-3 years, depending on the specific vaccine and veterinary recommendations.
Similar to dogs, the frequency of vaccinations for cats depends on factors such as the type of vaccine, the cat’s age, lifestyle, and risk factors. Core vaccines are typically administered as a series of initial doses followed by booster vaccinations every 1-3 years, depending on the specific vaccine and veterinary recommendations.
The vaccines required by law for licensing pets vary depending on local regulations and ordinances. However, rabies vaccination is commonly required by law for both dogs and cats in many jurisdictions.
If you miss a scheduled booster vaccine for your puppy or kitten, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the best course of action. Depending on the specific circumstances and the vaccine in question, your veterinarian may recommend restarting the vaccination series or administering a delayed booster dose.
While indoor cats are generally at lower risk of exposure to feline leukemia virus (FeLV) compared to outdoor cats, vaccination against FeLV may still be recommended depending on factors such as the cat’s lifestyle, exposure to other cats, and regional prevalence of the disease. Discuss with your veterinarian to determine if FeLV vaccination is appropriate for your indoor cat.
The feline 3-in-1 vaccination, also known as the FVRCP vaccine, provides protection against three common diseases in cats:

  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis (herpesvirus)
  • Calicivirus
  • Panleukopenia (feline distemper)
The feline 4-in-1 vaccination, also known as the FVRCP + FeLV vaccine, provides protection against four common diseases in cats:

  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis (herpesvirus)
  • Calicivirus
  • Panleukopenia (feline distemper)
  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
The canine 5-in-1 vaccination, also known as the DHPP vaccine, provides protection against five common diseases in dogs:

  • Distemper
  • Hepatitis (adenovirus type 2)
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvovirus
  • Leptospirosis
The canine 6-in-1 vaccination, also known as the DHPP + C vaccine, provides protection against six common diseases in dogs:

  • Distemper
  • Hepatitis (adenovirus type 2)
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvovirus
  • Leptospirosis
  • Coronavirus
Pets that are sick, unhealthy, or on medication may have a compromised immune system, which can affect their ability to respond to vaccines effectively. In such cases, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian to assess the pet’s health status and determine if vaccination is appropriate. Depending on the severity of the illness or the specific medication being administered, your veterinarian may recommend delaying vaccination until the pet has recovered or its immune system has stabilized.
Certain dog breeds, such as the Dachshund, Pug, and Chihuahua, have been reported to be more prone to vaccine reactions, although individual reactions can vary widely regardless of breed. Additionally, pets with a history of allergic reactions or sensitivity to vaccines may be at higher risk of experiencing adverse reactions.
After your pet’s vaccination, monitor for any signs of adverse reactions or side effects, including:

  • Swelling, redness, or tenderness at the injection site
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Facial swelling or hives
  • Difficulty breathing

If you notice any concerning symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately for further evaluation and guidance.

After your pet receives vaccinations, you can help comfort them by providing a quiet and comfortable resting area away from noise and activity. Offer plenty of water and a small amount of their favorite food if they have a good appetite. Gentle petting and reassurance can also help alleviate any discomfort or anxiety.
If your pet is already sick or showing signs of illness when scheduled for vaccination, it’s essential to inform your veterinarian before the vaccination appointment. Depending on the severity of the illness and the specific symptoms, your veterinarian may recommend postponing vaccination until your pet has recovered to avoid potential complications or exacerbation of the underlying illness.
The time it takes for vaccines to take effect varies depending on the specific vaccine and the individual pet’s immune response. In general, most vaccines begin to stimulate the immune system within a few days to weeks after administration. However, full protection may not develop until after the completion of the initial vaccination series and any necessary booster doses.
The duration of immunity provided by vaccines varies depending on factors such as the type of vaccine, the specific pathogen targeted, and individual pet factors. Some vaccines provide immunity for several years, while others may require annual or triennial booster vaccinations to maintain protection. Your veterinarian can provide guidance on the recommended vaccination schedule for your pet based on current veterinary guidelines and risk factors.
Pets of all ages can benefit from vaccination, although the specific vaccines and frequency may vary based on factors such as the pet’s age, health status, lifestyle, and vaccination history. Older pets may still require core vaccinations to maintain immunity, while non-core vaccinations may be recommended based on individual risk factors and exposure. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate vaccination protocol for your senior pet.