8120 S. Cass Avenue Darien, IL 60561 | M-F: 8am-12:30pm & 1:30pm-5pm, Saturday: 8am-2pm

Why Does My Pet Need Vaccines?

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Why Does My Pet Need Vaccines?

Our doctors recommend the administration of vaccines that are carefully tailored according to your pet’s risk level, life stage and lifestyle.  Here are three reasons why Fluffy or Fido should be vaccinated:

  • Vaccination prevents many pet illnesses – pet diseases that are preventable with proper immunization include rabies, canine distemper, parvovirus and influenza, leptospirosis, Lyme disease and Bordetellosis (commonly called kennel cough) in dogs and rabies and the feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) in in cats.

    Canines with symptoms of parvovirus (lethargy, a low body temperature, vomiting and severe bloody diarrhea) are typically puppies whose immune systems haven’t fully developed and who haven’t yet received a complete series of the vaccine that protects against the virus. These puppies are usually quite ill, require isolation to prevent infecting other dogs, and are treated with intravenous fluids, a warmth source, and medications to control vomiting and diarrhea until their immune system can fight off the infection.

    Dogs with canine influenza or kennel cough are seen frequently in the clinic, especially since the relatively recent rise in daycare, boarding and dog park options. These upper respiratory diseases are highly infectious and affected pets will present with a dry hacking cough that may sound like honking, sneezing, nasal discharge, fever, and/or lethargy. Although puppies with immature immune systems are more susceptible to canine influenza or kennel cough – dogs of any age who aren’t fully vaccinated against these diseases are at risk – especially when exposed to infected dogs in daycare, boarding and grooming facilities.

    The feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) is a highly contagious viral disease with kittens between 2-6 months of age the most vulnerable. Mainly spread through direct contact with the urine, feces or blood of an infected cat, FPV can also be spread by fleas who have fed on a contaminated cat. Symptoms of FPV include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and/or dehydration. While there is no cure, FPV is treatable with intravenous fluids administered at the clinic to increase hydration and restore electrolyte balances in isolation from other cats.

  • Vaccination prevents diseases that can be passed from animals to people and between animals — zoonotic diseases, those that are spread from animals to people, include rabies, leptospirosis, and Lyme disease. In the U.S., rabies is the best example of a zoonotic disease virtually eradicated by immunization as rabies vaccines are required by law in most (but not all) states.

    Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is spread through the urine of infected mammals, including deer, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, and opossums. Common symptoms of leptospirosis include fever, lethargy, increased water consumption, vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite. Because it’s a bacterial disease, leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics however, the bacteria can cause irreversible damage to the kidneys or liver. Pets diagnosed with leptospirosis require hospitalization with isolation from other animals, antibiotics, and fluid support. Most importantly, proper hygiene must be followed by clinic staff to make sure the disease isn’t transmitted to the humans caring for infected pets.

    Lyme is a bacterial disease that occurs when an infected tick attaches itself to a host through a bite. Symptoms of Lyme disease include limping, joint pain or swelling, lethargy, decreased appetite and/or a fever but may take weeks or months after an infected tick bite before any of these symptoms are seen. Antibiotics usually provide effective treatment for Lyme disease but, left untreated, the disease may also cause decreased kidney function. In addition to year-round use of flea and tick preventatives, Lyme disease vaccination is recommended for dogs that frequent wooded or grassy areas where ticks are known to thrive.

  • Vaccination can help avoid expensive treatments for preventable diseases – treating your pet for canine parvovirus, leptospirosis, Lyme disease or FPV can be 10 times more expensive than the related vaccine and treating your pet for canine influenza or kennel cough can total several hundred dollars. If leptospirosis or Lyme disease is transmitted to you or a family member, treatment for you and your pet can be 100 times more expensive than the cost of the vaccines.

As highlighted above, puppies are most susceptible to infectious diseases that are preventable through vaccine administration.  Our doctors recommend that until a puppy has received its complete series of vaccinations, pet owners should use caution when taking their puppy to doggy daycare, boarding facilities and groomers or pet shops and parks where other unvaccinated dogs may gather.  For more information about why your pet needs vaccines, please call us at 630-598-0600.