VACCINES


Vaccines are an integral part of risk reduction, or preventative medicine that can help keep your pet free from illness! To learn more, consult the information below.

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Dog Vaccines

What are vaccines?

Vaccines are a means of preventing illness from specific infectious agents.  They are administered as an injection and contain subunits of the disease in question.  This triggers an immune response, thereby generating protective antibodies without causing illness.

Why is my puppy vaccinated with the same vaccines multiple times in the first few months?

Puppies are born susceptible to all pathogens, and obtain their first antibodies from their mother’s milk.  However, these are only transient and begin to decline over the following weeks at a rate that is individual to each puppy.  It is therefore essential to vaccinate your puppy early, beginning at 6 weeks of age to protect them during this vulnerable period.  Multiple rounds of vaccination from 6-12 weeks of age are required since any remaining maternal antibodies interfere with the production of new vaccine-induced antibodies.

Why should I vaccinate my puppy or dog?
Vaccines are an integral part of the risk reduction preventative medicine that is offered by the Fergus Veterinary Hospital.  This is the most cost-effective and efficacious means of protecting your pet from a number of potentially serious or even fatal diseases, some of which are transmissible to humans.  There are a number of vaccines available, which are categorized as “core” (administered to all dogs), and a selection of vaccines given only to individuals on a lifestyle basis.  It is important to remember that the rabies vaccine is required by law and often necessary for travel.  A certificate and tag are provided.

When should I vaccinate my puppy or dog?
The vaccination protocol that the Fergus Veterinary Hospital uses for dogs begins at 6 weeks of age with a set of core vaccines called DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza), then at 9 weeks a repeat of DHPP, and finally at 12 weeks another DHPP plus rabies. As well, annual boosters composed of DHPP and rabies are standard. Others vaccines available include leptospirosis, lyme, and bordetella.  The veterinarian can assist you in developing a vaccine protocol specific to your pet’s needs.

To learn more about the specific diseases vaccinated against, click on the links below:

Distemper
Distemper is a viral disease that attacks the respiratory, digestive and nervous systems, often with serious, lifelong or fatal consequences. Symptoms such as listlessness, fever, coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, hardening of the foot pads and ocular or nasal discharge may be evident, with possible convulsions and paralysis in the end stages. Transmission occurs via contact with excretions and secretions of an infected animal, via air currents, or on contaminated inanimate objects. Distemper is considered a core vaccine and should therefore be administered on an annual basis since almost every dog is likely to come into contact with the virus at some point in their life and vaccination has been shown to prevent the disease.

Rabies
Rabies is a fatal viral disease that can affect any mammal, including humans! Typically, infected wildlife and unvaccinated animals are the source for this virus, which is transmitted by saliva and subsequently attacks the nervous system. Prior to death, infected animals may exhibit signs of increased aggression or shyness, shifting gait, facial twitching, snapping at the air, dilated pupils or excessive salivation. It is the law for your pet’s to be vaccinated against rabies and is often required for travel outside Canada. In the event that your pet comes into contact with unfamiliar, suspicious or wild animals (such as raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats) you should seek veterinary attention for your pet immediately, even if they appear fine. To help prevent these occurrences, it is recommended to cap chimneys and ensure that all access points to your house are sealed. To view a document containing the Wellington regulations pertaining to rabies, immunizations and your pet, click here (Note: to save the file to your computer, right click on the link and choose “Save link as”).

Hepatitis
Hepatitis is a viral disease of dogs that adversely affects the liver. It is considered part of the core vaccines and should therefore be administered on an annual basis.

Leptospirosis
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease of mammals, including humans. While many organ systems can be affected, the disease primarily targets the liver and kidneys with potentially fatal consequences if left untreated. Symptoms may include fever, vomiting, jaundice, seizures, lethargy, abdominal pain or increased urination. Infection occurs through contact with contaminated urine of reservoir animals, such as wildlife and livestock. Transmission is most likely to occur in warm, wet conditions and may therefore occur more easily after rainfall or around slow moving or stagnant water sources. Although there are many serovars (strains) of leptospirosis, typically certain serovars predominate in specific geographical regions. This vaccine is not considered core. However, it is the opinion of the Fergus Veterinary Hospital that all dogs within the Centre Wellington, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo and wider area should receive it. A suggested protocol is vaccination at 8 weeks with a booster 2+ weeks later, followed by an annual booster.

Parvovirus
Parvovirus primarily affects dogs between 6 weeks and 6 months of age, with Dobermans, German Shepherds and Rottweilers being particularly susceptible. It is an extremely resilient virus that is able to withstand temperature extremes and exposure to most disinfectants. Transmission occurs via contact with infected feces and may show signs of decreased appetite, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea with blood and a foul odour. Left untreated, parvovirus is very expensive to treat and can be fatal. Vaccination is a very effective method of lessening the severity or preventing parvovirus altogether. It is therefore considered a core vaccine.

Kennel Cough (Bordetella)
Kennel cough (bordetella) is a highly contagious, airborne bacterial infection that causes bronchitis and bronchopneumonia. Symptoms can include a loss of appetite, a dry cough with difficulty breathing and in some cases, nasal discharge. Transmission can be airborne via coughing and sneezing, or through contact with contaminated surfaces. Kennel cough typically lasts 7-10 days and may require antibiotics. Fortunately, a full recovery is generally expected. This vaccine is suggested only for high-risk dogs, such as those on the show circuit or that plan to be boarded.

Giardia
Giardia is a water-borne parasite. It can affect almost any mammal, including cats, dogs and humans! Ingestion of fecally contaminated water is thought to be the primary route of transmission. Symptoms typically involve chronic gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea. This vaccine is relatively new and is used as an adjunct to therapy rather then a preventative. You should consult with the veterinarian before deciding if it could benefit your pet!

Canine Coronavirus
Canine coronavirus infects a layer of the intestinal tract and can result in vomiting and diarrhea. The prevalence of this virus is generally considered to be low and most infections are self-limiting. However, puppies are particularly susceptible to severe symptoms, especially when combined with other diseases such as parvovirus. Vaccination for this virus is not suggested by all veterinarians and it’s use is dictated by an animal’s potential risk of infection.

Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria that is transmitted by ticks. When clinical signs are present in dogs, they include vague symptoms such as lameness, joint swelling, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy. In addition, the brain, heart and kidneys may also be affected. For this reason, diagnosis is difficult and is made in conjunction with travel history, antibody blood tests and the presence of ticks. It it therefore important to use a tick spray, remove ticks from your dog promptly and/or give your dog the lyme disease vaccine if they are in a high risk area, which the veterinarian can help you decide! The same disease in humans is marked by a characteristic bulls-eye-like red lesion at the site of the tick bite and a considerably more severe disease course.

For more information on vaccinations, search the clinic library (located under “Resources” at the top), ask Petrina, or contact the Fergus Veterinary Hospital (locate contact information under “About Us” at the top).


Cat Vaccines

What are vaccines?
Vaccines are a means of preventing illness from specific infectious agents.  They are administered as an injection and contain subunits of the disease in question that triggers an immune response, thereby generating protective antibodies without causing illness. 

Why does my kitten need to get the same vaccines multiple times in the first few months of life?
Kittens are born susceptible to all pathogens, and obtain their first antibodies from their mother’s milk.  However, these are only transient and begin to decline over the following weeks at a rate that is individual to each kitten.  It is therefore essential to vaccinate your kitten early, beginning at 6 weeks of age to protect them during this vulnerable period.  Multiple rounds of vaccination from 6-12 weeks of age are required since any remaining maternal antibodies interfere with the production of new vaccine-induced antibodies.

Why should I vaccinate my kitten or cat?
Vaccines are an integral part of the risk reduction preventative medicine that is offered by the Fergus Veterinary Hospital.  This is the most cost-effective and efficacious means of protecting your pet from a number of potentially serious or even fatal diseases, some of which are transmissible to humans.  There are a number of vaccines available, which are broken into “core” that are administered to all cats, and a selection of vaccines given only to individuals on a lifestyle basis.  It is important to remember that the rabies vaccine is required by law and often necessary for travel.

When should I vaccinate my kitten or cat?
The vaccination protocol that the Fergus Veterinary Hospital uses for cats begins at 6 weeks of age with the core vaccines of distemper, calicivirus and rhinotracheitis vaccines, then at 9 weeks a repeat of the same vaccines and finally at 12 weeks with the same three plus rabies. As well, annual boosters composed of these same vaccines are standard. In addition, there are several other vaccines that are available on a lifestyle basis, including feline leukemia, bordetella, and feline immunodeficiency virus.

To learn more about specific diseases with currently available vaccines, click on the links below:

Feline Distemper
Feline distemper is also known as panleukopenia, which is a parvovirus that causes fever, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. Transmission occurs via contact with infected cats, or from a contaminated environment. Unvaccinated kittens 3 to 5 months old are the most severely affected, with a death rate around 75%. Older cats that develop the illness often do not exhibit any clinical signs, but can still experience a death rate as high as 50%. Infected individuals may be infertile, experience abortions or transfer the virus to unborn fetuses, giving rise to still born kittens or spastic kittens with cerebellar hypoplasia. This vaccine is considered a core vaccine since exposure is common due to the widespread nature of the disease, combined with it’s ability to survive in the environment up to one year. It should be noted that feline distemper does not affect dogs, as canine distemper and canine parvovirus are caused by a different agents.

Feline Respiratory Disease (Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Chlamydia, Bordetella)
Feline respiratory disease is most commonly caused by rhinotracheitis or calicivirus. Younger cats appear to be most severely affected and exhibit signs such as sneezing, and nasal and ocular discharge. As well, cats with rhinotracheitis may cough and develop ulcerative keratitis (an eye condition). Conversely, cats with calicivirus may develop oral ulcers, pneumonia, diarrhea or joint disease. While recovery typically occurs in 2 to 4 weeks, many become chronic carriers. These are considered core vaccines. Chlamydia and bordetella may also cause respiratory disease, albeit less frequently and are therefore considered optional vaccines. More commonly, chlamydia will cause chronic conjunctivitis.

Feline Leukemia (FeLV)
Feline Leukemia virus is the leading cause of disease and death in cats. By inhibiting a cat’s immune defences, they are less able to fight off secondary infections, which drastically reduces their longevity and death often results within 3 years of infection. Transmission generally occurs via contact with the saliva and secretions of other infected cats. Therefore, outdoor cats, catteries and multi-cat households are most at risk and the veterinarian may suggest vaccinating these pets. Clinical signs of the disease can include cancer, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss or breathing difficulties. As well, any cat with a fever of undetermined origin, or recurring illness should be tested for feline leukemia. It should be noted that not all cats that test positive will develop the illness, as some are able to mount an effective immune response and fight it off.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
Feline Infectious Peritonitis is a viral disease that is the result of a mutated coronavirus. Animals most at risk include those between 6 months to 2 years or older then 11 years, multi-cat households, or cats whose immune system is otherwise compromised. Illness occurs once a cat has been infected with an already mutated or regular strain of the coronavirus that subsequently mutates. Clinical signs take time to develop and can progress to either the wet or dry form of the disease, both of which are inevitably fatal. The wet form is caused by a build up of fluid in the abdomen or the chest, while the dry form is the result of lumps of inflammatory tissue in multiple organs. Weight loss, fever and loss of appetite are often seen. While an intranasal vaccine is available, it is not recommended since it it typically not protective and may even make the course of the disease worse.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Feline immunodeficiency virus impacts the immune system and is inevitably fatal. It is most common in male and free roaming cats since transmission primarily occurs via bite wounds. This vaccine is therefore recommended for cats that go outside (especially if they tend to get into fights), or for those who are in a multi-cat household of unknown feline immunodeficiency virus status. It should be noted that cats who have previously received the feline immunodeficiency vaccine will yield a false positive blood test result. Therefore make sure to inform the veterinarian prior to testing if your cat has received this vaccination in the past.

Rabies
Rabies is a fatal viral disease that can affect any mammal, including humans! Typically, infected wildlife and unvaccinated animals are the source for this virus, which is transmitted by saliva and subsequently attacks the nervous system. Prior to death, infected animals may exhibit signs of increased aggression or shyness, shifting gait, facial twitching, snapping at the air, dilated pupils or excessive salivation. It is the law for your pet’s to be vaccinated against rabies and is often required for travel outside Canada. In the event that your pet comes into contact with unfamiliar, suspicious or wild animals (such as raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats) you should seek veterinary attention for your pet immediately, even if they appear fine. To help prevent these occurrences, it is recommended to cap chimneys and ensure that all access points to your house are sealed. To view a document containing the Wellington regulations pertaining to rabies, immunizations and your pet, click here (Note: to save the file to your computer, right click on the link and choose “Save link as”).


If you do not locate the vaccination information you require here, please search the clinic library, vetport library and more under our “Resources” tab located at the top of the page. Alternatively, please click on “Contact” in the main menu to contact the Fergus Veterinary Hospital and obtain more information!