Not sure what to think about all those vaccinations? Here's a handy guide to
the vaccines we recommend at SMVC. There are others available that we do
not use; if you have any questions or concerns, please talk to us.
DHPP - Distemper/Hepatitis/Parainfluenza/Parvo
This is one of the core vaccines for dogs. Distemper and Parvo can both be
fatal infections. It is sometimes called DA2PP, and can include a Lepto
vaccine. We do not use the Lepto component at SMVC because the disease
incidence is relatively low and the vaccine is associated with a high incidence
of vaccine reactions. Puppies should be started on the series at 6-8 weeks of
age, and should receive boosters every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old
(some breeds should go longer, and every puppy should get at least 2 vaccines
spaced 3-4 weeks apart). Adult dogs should receive a booster one year after
the puppy series, and then every one to three years depending on lifestyle &
Bordetella - a.k.a. Kennel Cough Vaccine
This vaccine is recommended every six months for dogs that get boarded or
groomed. Quality boarding and grooming facilities should require this vaccine.
The vaccine itself is not as good as the other vaccines, partly because Kennel
Cough is a complex disease caused by bacteria and viruses, and partly because
a high enough infectious dose can still lead to disease. The major risk factor
for Kennel Cough is being around high concentrations of other dogs. The
vaccine is given either as an injection or as drops in the nose. The nose drops
take effect more rapidly, but can be impossible to give to some dogs! There is
a vaccine available for cats, but it is generally not recommended, as it has low
efficacy and cats are less susceptible to the disease than dogs are.
FVRCP - Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis/Calici/Panluekopenia
Now you see why we call the vaccines by their abbreviations! This one is also
called the Feline Distemper/Upper Respiratory vaccine and is a core vaccine
for cats. It generally also includes Chlamydiophila, so is should really be called
FVRCP-C. It may also be called the feline 3-in-1 or 4-in-1. Kittens should get it
every 3-4 weeks starting at 8 weeks of age, usually for a series of 3 injections.
They should minimally have two vaccines spaced 3-4 weeks apart. Adult cats
are given a booster after one year, and then every one to three years
depending on lifestyle.
FeLV - Feline Leukemia Virus
Cats who are outdoors or live with an infected cat have risk for Feline
Leukemia and should be vaccinated. The vaccine is a series of two initial
vaccines spaced 3-4 weeks apart, and then a booster after one year. After
that, I recommend every three years. It may be required annually if you have
your cat boarded.
Dogs are required to be vaccinated (and subsequently licensed) for rabies. It is
a uniformly fatal disease and can be passed on to virtually any mammal,
including humans. I also recommend vaccinating cats for rabies, although it is
not mandatory here. The vaccine is given at approximately 4 months of age
with the last of the kitten/puppy series, and then boostered after one year. It
is subsequently given every three years to dogs in Arizona. For cats, the best
rabies vaccine is only licensed for one year, so it must be given every year.
However, it has a much lower incidence of vaccine-induced sarcoma (cancer),
so we definitely recommend it over the 3-year vaccine.
Rattlesnake vaccine - for dogs only
If you are concerned about rattlesnakes, please talk to us. We recommend the
vaccine for some pets and also recommend snake training for all pets. The
vaccine does not replace emergency care - if your dog gets bitten, he or she
will still need medical attention.