Pet Hospital Vaccinations  

The Importance of Vaccinations for Your Pets 

Imagine your unvaccinated dog playing in the dog park, meeting a new friend, and several days later they begin coughing. In the time they spent frolicking with a friend, they contracted kennel cough. While kennel cough isn’t deadly, other viruses and bacteria are, and vaccinations from your pet hospital can protect your dog or cat from contracting these illnesses or lessen the severity. 

How Vaccines Work 

Vaccines in animals work the same as vaccines in humans. Vaccines teach your pet’s immune system how to fight off disease by stimulating antibodies that destroy viruses and bacteria before they cause illness. In many cases, this prevents the illnesses altogether and lessens the severity of disease if it is contracted. 

Types of Vaccines 

There are two types of vaccinations for your pet—core and non-core. Both types provide protection to your pet. 

Core Vaccines 

Core vaccines are recommended for all pets.  


For dogs and puppies core vaccines include: 

Rabies – This virus inflames the brain and can be spread to humans through bites. Once an animal has rabies, there is no treatment.  

Parvovirus – Dogs can contract parvo through contact with an infected dog’s stool or on surfaces like food and water bowls, kennels, and even through humans who have come into contact with the virus. This is a highly contagious virus that causes severe dehydration with diarrhea and vomiting. While it can be treated, it often requires hospitalization which can be expensive, and there is no guarantee the dog will survive.  

Canine Hepatitis – This is another highly contagious disease. Canine hepatitis causes a severe infection in the liver. It can be spread through saliva, urine, blood, feces, and mucus from an infected dog. Some cases of acute canine hepatitis can be cured, but chronic hepatitis cannot be cured. Puppies and young dogs have the highest mortality rate for canine hepatitis. 

Canine Parainfluenza – Most commonly known as kennel cough, canine parainfluenza is very contagious and often affects dogs that are in close proximity to one another, such as playing at the dog park, doggy daycare, or while boarding. Though kennel cough isn’t typically fatal, it may lead to chronic lung issues in some dogs.  

Canine Distemper Virus – Canine distemper is contagious and causes serious health issues and one in two pets will die from infection. Distemper attacks the immune system and spreads to the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. This disease is spread through the air including exposure to infected dogs that are sneezing, coughing, or barking in addition to shared food and water bowls. There is no cure or antiviral treatment for distemper. 


In cats, the recommended core vaccines include: 

Feline Panleukopenia Virus – This virus is like parvo in dogs. It is highly contagious and affects the cat’s nervous and gastrointestinal systems. It affects kittens more severely than adult cats. Feline panleukopenia is often fatal and can be prevented with a vaccine. 

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) – FeLV is a disease that affects a cat’s immune system. It can also cause leukemia, lymphoma, and infertility in cats. It cannot spread from cats to humans, and it most often spreads through saliva and bite wounds.  

Rabies – Cats are the most reported domestic animals with rabies and just as in dogs, it is fatal.  

Feline Rhinotracheitis – This is a respiratory illness that inflames the nose and windpipe of an infected cat. Feline rhinotracheitis is the cause of 80-90% of infectious feline upper respiratory diseases. It is spread through direct contact with saliva or nose and eye discharge from an infected cat. 

Feline Calcivirus – This condition causes oral and upper respiratory disease in cats. It’s highly contagious and can be spread through sneezing, contact with saliva, and nose and eye discharge. Most cats recover, but rare strains of the disease can be fatal. 

These core vaccinations are critical to the health of your dog or cat and should not be ignored or put off. Puppies and kittens are especially susceptible to these illnesses and should be vaccinated as soon as possible. 

Non-Core Vaccines 

Non-core vaccines are recommended by a pet hospital based on the pet’s history and lifestyle. 


Non-core vaccines for puppies and dogs are based on where they live including the lifestyle of the pet and owner. 

Leptospirosis – This is more common in regions that have warm and wet environments. The bacteria thrive in water and urine-contaminated soil. The disease is spread by rodents and enters the dog’s body through ingestion, mucus membranes, or broken skin. While this condition is usually survivable, it can cause chronic kidney or liver issues. 

Canine Giardia – This condition causes diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and other gastrointestinal issues. It’s spread through contact with infected fecal matter, rolling in contaminated soil, or coming in contact with a contaminated surface or body of water. Dogs who frequent dog parks or trails may be at higher risk. 

Lyme disease – This illness can affect you and your dog. In dogs Lyme Disease attacks the joints and causes arthritis. It can be treated with antibiotics, but symptoms may return. If you go camping, hiking in wooded areas, or through tall grasses your dog is more likely to have a tick bite.  

Bordetella bronchiseptica – This is a contagious respiratory infection that causes dry hacking coughs, as well as sneezing, retching, and watery nasal discharge. Animals that are frequently boarded or participate in events, or where there are multiple animals in the home are more likely to be exposed to Bordetella bronchiseptica.  


The following vaccines are recommended based on your cat’s history and habits but are not required. 

Feline Giardia – Your cat can become infected with giardia which causes gastrointestinal issues, just like in your dog. Giardia can be passed to humans, so pet owners, especially those with immune system deficiencies should dispose of fecal matter with more care. Pet owners can also disinfect spaces with bleach. 

Chlamydophila felis – This disease causes conjunctivitis in cats which can be painful and cause severe swelling in the eyes. It’s contagious to other cats, uncomfortable, and may contribute to infertility, but is not deadly. However, if you have a multi-cat household a vaccination is recommended.  

When Should Your Pet Be Vaccinated? 

Your pet should be vaccinated as soon as they become a part of your family. If you have a puppy or a kitten, vaccinations are especially important. Young pets are often more severely affected by disease and need the protection of a vaccine.  

If you adopt a pet from a local shelter or rescue, they likely will already have the vaccines they need, but ask for the history for your records. Pets that are adopted as strays should be brought to a pet hospital to be examined, treated for any conditions, and vaccinated.  

In some cases, if your pet already has a disease including feline leukemia virus (FeLV), they should not be vaccinated. It’s important to have an initial health exam to help determine which vaccinations are needed. 

Vaccination is Protection 

Vaccinating your pets protects them, and sometimes your family, from health conditions that range from unpleasant to deadly. 

Vaccinations are an important part of your pet’s annual physical exams. The veterinarians at Cimarron Animal Hospital can give your pets the core vaccines they need to stay healthy and prevent disease. Our team can also help you determine which non-core vaccinations will be best for your pet based on their risk. 

Contact us to schedule your pet’s annual exams, initial vaccinations, and boosters. 

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