Just like humans, dogs and cats need vaccines to protect them from diseases. Vaccines exist to ensure that your pet’s immune system can fight against infection even before being exposed to a disease. Preventative care is always the best care, and in response to that, the veterinary world has created a standard for best protecting the health of your pet: core and non-core vaccines. Here you will learn about the difference between core and non-core vaccines and what to know as a pet owner.

 

What is a Core Vaccine?

A core vaccination is a vaccine that is recommended for all dogs and cats, regardless of age or lifestyle, because the disease they protect against will strike without accord to either of factors. Core vaccinations are defined by three different principles. First, the disease they protect against has a high rate of infection. Second, the disease poses a threat against your pet’s life. And lastly, the disease also poses a threat against human health.

 

What Does my Dog Need?

For the first eight weeks of your dog’s life, they rely on you to keep them safe and away from any harmful diseases. It is not a good idea to start them on their regimen of vaccines before their six to eight-week mark. The most important reason being that they are generally ineffective. The reason they are ineffective is because your puppy will receive antibodies from its mother while nursing, and those antibodies will counteract the chemicals in the vaccine, rendering them useless. Even without their mother’s antibodies, your puppy’s immune system is too immature at this time to respond effectively to the stimulation. Once your puppy has passed his or her eight-week birthday, it’s suggested they receive these four vaccines.For the first eight weeks of your dog’s life, they rely on you to keep them safe and away from any harmful diseases. It is not a good idea to start them on their regimen of vaccines before their six to eight-week mark. The most important reason being that they are generally ineffective. The reason they are ineffective is because your puppy will receive antibodies from its mother while nursing, and those antibodies will counteract the chemicals in the vaccine, rendering them useless. Even without their mother’s antibodies, your puppy’s immune system is too immature at this time to respond effectively to the stimulation. Once your puppy has passed his or her eight-week birthday, it’s suggested they receive these four vaccines.

  • Distemper – Canine distemper is caused by fomites – materials that are likely to carry infection – from bodily fluids of the nasal and oral cavities, through direct contact with infected dogs. Distemper causes disease of the nervous, respiratory, and digestive systems.
  • Parvovirus  – Most commonly called Parvo, this disease is highly contagious and spread through fecal-oral routes.  It affects a number of areas in your dog’s body and can be fatal. Parvo is especially deadly for puppies or unvaccinated adult dogs, which is why it is so important for puppies to be given the vaccine once they’ve reached the age of vaccination.
  • Rabies – Perhaps the most well-known disease, rabies is spread from the bite of an infected animal and is almost always fatal in both dogs and humans.
  • Adenovirus (hepatitis) – Caused by fomites in bodily fluids, such as saliva, urine, or feces, adenovirus is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation.

 

What Does my Cat Need?

 

Like puppies, kittens receive antibodies – otherwise known as maternal immunity – from their mothers while nursing. Because of this, vaccinations will not be effective until this immunity wears off, around two to three months of age. It is strongly suggested that until they are of age to receive vaccinations, they are kept away from any other unvaccinated cats. Once they are of age, there are four core vaccinations for cats. Like puppies, kittens receive antibodies – otherwise known as maternal immunity – from their mothers while nursing. Because of this, vaccinations will not be effective until this immunity wears off, around two to three months of age. It is strongly suggested that until they are of age to receive vaccinations, they are kept away from any other unvaccinated cats. Once they are of age, there are four core vaccinations for cats.

  • Panleukopenia – A disease that can affect several body systems, especially blood cells in bone marrow, it is caused by exposure to the secretions of infected animals.
  • Rabies – Like with dogs, rabies for cats is contracted through the bite of an infected animal and can be fatal to both cats and humans.
  • Feline Calicivirus – Caused by coming into contact with an infected cat, calicivirus is a viral respiratory infection.
  • Feline herpesvirus – One of the major causes of cat flu, herpesvirus is a viral respiratory infection that is caused by contact with an infected cat. Herpesvirus is most common in kittens that are not yet old enough for vaccines, making their pre-vaccine care crucial.

 

What is a Non-Core Vaccine?

 

While core vaccinations protect against diseases that afflict dogs and cats regardless of age or lifestyle, non-core vaccinations protect against diseases that highly depend on these factors. Non-core vaccinations are recommended based on a pet’s particular lifestyle or environment, and it’s important to be aware of which are appropriate for your pet’s unique situation. For example, if your dog will be in a confined space with other dogs (such as if they are being boarded), you will want to get them the Bordetella vaccination. While core vaccinations protect against diseases that afflict dogs and cats regardless of age or lifestyle, non-core vaccinations protect against diseases that highly depend on these factors. Non-core vaccinations are recommended based on a pet’s particular lifestyle or environment, and it’s important to be aware of which are appropriate for your pet’s unique situation. For example, if your dog will be in a confined space with other dogs (such as if they are being boarded), you will want to get them the Bordetella vaccination.

Non-Core vaccines for dogs include:

  • Bordetella
  • Canine Parainfluenza Virus
  • Canine Influenza Virus
  • Borellia Burgdorferi (Lyme Disease)
  • LeptosporosisNon-Core vaccines for cats include:
  • Feline Leukemia Virus

If you are unsure of whether your dog or cat is behind on their core vaccinations, or if you have not recently consulted with us on what non-core vaccinations are appropriate for your pet, please

give us a call so we can help!