West Chester Veterinary Center
7330 Liberty Way, West Chester OH 45069 - Phone: 513-755-2273

Parvovirus, Parainfluenza virus, Distemper, Leptospirosis, Panleukopenia, Feline Leukemia Virus and Rabies. pet vaccinationsVaccinations help to combat diseases by exposing the pet's immune system to inactive or small amounts of a particular form of bacteria or virus. Different vet practices have different vaccine protocols, but all dogs and cats aged 6 weeks and older require vaccinations to prevent the spread of disease. As with human vaccines, efficacy and side effects are rigorously tested before being presented to your veterinarian for use in pets.

Common Vaccines and the Diseases They Prevent

Canine Distemper: This viral infection affects several body systems, including the gastrointestinal tracts, the respiratory system, and the spinal cord and brain. Symptoms include high fever, eye inflammation and eye/nose discharge, labored breathing, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and lethargy. As the disease progresses there may be hardening of the nose and foot pads. This viral infection is often accompanied by secondary bacterial infections and can even present serious neurological symptoms.

Parvovirus: This highly contagious disease commonly affects the intestinal tracts in young animals up to six months in age. There are some breeds of dogs that are more susceptible to this disease and will require a longer vaccine cycle. Symptoms include anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea (often severe and bloody), lethargy, and extreme weight loss. Treatment for the disease is lengthy and expensive, and the pets that survive treatment will likely have depressed immune systems. The virus can live for up to a year without a host, and is resistant to most cleaning products. Parvovirus is the main reason we recommend keeping young pets away from (held in your arms or crated) high population areas such as pet stores, dog parks, vet offices until they are fully vaccinated.

Rabies: All mammals are susceptible to rabies, a disease that affects the nervous system and is transferred through saliva. Many people believe a symptom of rabies is aggression, but the reverse is often true in domestic pets. Dogs and cats may present with extreme affection as well as other neurological symptoms such as excessive drooling, staggering, seizures, head tilts and head shaking, and difficulty swallowing. Because humans can also contract the disease, rabies vaccination is required by law.

Parainfluenza Virus and Bordetella: Both of these viruses can contribute to Kennel Cough, a disease that spreads easily among dogs causing nasal discharge, a hacking cough, gagging, sneezing, and fever. If left untreated pneumonia can develop. Parainfluenza also affects Cats who exhibit similar upper respiratory symptoms.

Vet DoctorLeptospirosis: The bacteria that causes this disease can be found in soil and water and can be spread to humans. It causes abdominal discomfort, vomiting, decreased appetite, and in some cases flu-like symptoms such as muscle tenderness, fever and depression. The bacteria settles in the kidney and, if left untreated, can cause kidney failure. If your pet is not vaccinated and contracts this disease, antibiotics are required, as well as precautions such as gloves when handling infected material and sanitizing the home environment so that your family is not infected.

Feline Panleukopenia: The FP virus attacks the lining of the digestive system as well as the bone marrow and lymph nodes. Symptoms mirror other infectious diseases in cats such as FeLV and FIV, and can include lethargy, high fever, loss of appetite, generalized depression, nasal discharge, vomiting and diarrhea. Cats often sit in front of their water bowl for long periods without drinking. Unfortunately, the prognosis for kittens under 8 weeks of age is very grim, and is dire for cats of any age as the treatment is expensive and prolonged. Due to the highly contagious nature of the disease, all cats that live in the same environment must be monitored closely for signs and symptoms

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV): One of the most common infectious diseases in cats, this disease is spread cat- to-cat via saliva, urine and feces, and occasionally through shared litter boxes. It is the leading cause of feline cancer due to its immunosuppression characteristics. While we do have a vaccine to help curtail the spread of this disease, prevention through quarantine is the best defense (keeping your healthy cats indoors and away from carriers). If caught early through a routine blood test, cat owners and their veterinarian can help to extend their cat’s life through careful monitoring of their weight, appetite, activity level and appearance of eye and nose secretions. There is no cure for FeLV, only prevention and maintenance.

Vaccine Protocol, Managing Side Effects, and Titer Bloodwork

Before we begin to vaccinate your pet, a thorough examination will allow our staff to determine a protocol of vaccine administration that is appropriate for the age and health of your pet. Not only do the vaccines keep your pet from succumbing to the disease, but it will also help to prevent the spread of disease to other animals your pet encounters.
Your vet will discuss what to expect after your pet’s vaccination appointment, but typically we expect to see soreness, a little lethargy and slightly decreased appetite. However, if your pet has a fever, is vomiting or has diarrhea for more than 24 hours, it is important to have your pet re-examined by your veterinarian immediately. Allergic reactions to vaccines are uncommon, but treatable and easily managed when vaccines are boostered. As your pet ages, our protocol includes bloodwork called a Titer, which helps us determine the number of antibodies still present in your pet’s body, allowing us to determine whether or not a booster vaccine is even necessary.

Vaccines are a key component to keeping your pet, and your family, healthy. To find out more about keeping your family healthy, read our article on parasite detection and prevention.


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