Why is it important to vaccinate my pet?
Vaccinating your pet is important, as it prevents infectious diseases and can protects against potential illness. Vaccinations are relatively inexpensive, especially in comparison to the cost of treating the diseases if contracted. There are a range of different illnesses that vary from region to region, and you can work with your veterinarian to address your pet’s specific needs.
Diseases Common to Cats and Dogs
Rabies is the most important disease to be vaccinated against, as it is fatal to all mammals, including humans. Wildlife carrying the disease are the main source of spread. Because of the seriousness of rabies, vaccination against it is required by municipal law and travel outside of Canada.
Giardia is the very common water borne disease in North American, with nearly all mammals being susceptible. It is principally spread though contaminated surface water. Giardia cysts are very resistant to cold temperature.
Diseases Common to Dogs
Distemper virus is an important pathogen as almost every dog will be exposed to it over the course of its life, and disease caused by it is often fatal. This virus attacks many organs of the body and nervous system, and symptoms include fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhoea, discharge from eyes and listlessness. Death can occur between one and three weeks after infection.
Hepatitis virus is spread between dogs through urine, feces and other secretions. The liver is the main affected organ and severe cases can be fatal.
Parvovirus is highly contagious and spread through fecal materials. Unfortunately this virus can survive for extended periods in the environment outside the host’s body. Infection, mainly in young puppies, causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting, which can lead to shock and death.
Leptospirosis is a disease of dogs and other mammals including humans, caused by the Leptospira bacterium which is carried by wild animals and livestock, and is typically contracted when dogs drink from rivers, streams, puddles or ponds that have been contaminated by the urine of infected animals. This disease can be fatal, as it attacks the liver and kidneys, resulting in organ damage or failure. Because it can be difficult to diagnose, the leptospira bacterium can remain in your dog’s system unnoticed for a long time. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, lethargy, abdominal pain or increased urination. If treated early the disease can be controlled, although organ damage is permanent. Research shows that new strains of leptospirosis are emerging in Canadian dogs, due in part to the increase of wildlife in towns and cities. However, new vaccines are now available that offer broader protection. Ask your doctor about getting your pet vaccinated against Leptospirosis.
Canine Cough, Tracheobronchitis, or more commonly, “Kennel Cough,” is an infection and inflammation of the lungs and respiratory organs of dogs. Most boarding kennels require vaccination against this disease.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria carried by species of ticks found in some regions of Canada, and can be very difficult to diagnose due to long incubation periods and vague symptoms. Targeted organs include the liver, heart, nervous system, joints and kidneys.
Diseases Common to Cats
Feline AIDS is caused by the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, and is not the same has HIV which causes AIDS in humans. FIV causes immune system suppression and inability to fight infection. Cats with FIV can appear healthy for years before their immune system in incapable of fighting disease. There is no cure for FIV, and all cats that go outdoors are at risk.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) also attacks the immune system, and death may occur within 3 years of infection. Cats that are in contact with other cats, as well as cats that go outside, are at high risk.
Panleukopenia, or Feline Distemper, is widespread and often fatal. Since most cats will be exposed to it throughout their life, vaccination is important. Symptoms are fever, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR) is the most common upper respiratory infection found in cats, and symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, sneezing, discharge from eyes and nose, mouth breathing, and coughing. Even when treated successfully, FVR leads to lifelong infection.
Feline Calicivirus (FCV) also affects the upper respiratory system. Symptoms include fever, ulcers, and blisters on the tongue. Even when treated, cats with FCV are lifelong carriers with signs of sneezing and runny eyes.
Feline Chlamydiosis is a mild upper respiratory infection affected the mucous membranes of the eyes, and symptoms include tearing, nasal discharge, and sometimes sneezing. If you board your cat, the risk of contracting chlamydia is increased.