March News

Should I vaccinate my pet?

Are vaccinations important?

Are they effective?

Just as you make decisions about your own healthcare, these are questions that you should consider when you think about your pet’s healthcare.  Vaccinations are just one part of overall healthcare, but they are important and they are effective.  Meller-James & Associates Veterinary Service wants to keep you informed about the best preventive healthcare options for you and your pet.  There is no “one size fits all” vaccination protocol for every pet.  You and your veterinarian at Meller-James & Associates Veterinary Service are your pet’s healthcare team, and it is important for you to discuss your pet’s healthcare and vaccination options with your veterinarian.

 Vaccines are either called “Core Vaccines” or “Non-Core Vaccines”.  Core vaccines are highly recommended for your pet while non-core vaccines are optional, depending on your pet’s activities and exposure to other animals.

Here is a list of some important diseases of dogs and cats for which vaccines are available.  We want to help you better understand what vaccinations your pet might need, so that you can discuss this with your veterinarian.



This is a disease that can infect all mammals.  Once the symptoms of Rabies develop, RABIES IS ALWAYS FATAL.  The rabies virus attacks the brain and central nervous system, and is transmitted through the bite of an infected animal.  Because rabies can be transmitted to humans, your dog and cat should be vaccinated against rabies.  In Illinois, rabies vaccination is required by law for all dogs.  Some local ordinances require rabies vaccination for cats as well.


Canine distemper is a serious, often fatal viral infection that causes a wide variety of symptoms in infected dogs, including coughing, nasal discharge, vomiting and diarrhea, and even seizures.  Dogs become infected when they come into direct contact with a sick dog or with the environment contaminated by that dog.  All dogs should be vaccinated against distemper, starting as a puppy, usually at six weeks of age.


Canine Infectious Hepatitis is a viral disease of the liver.  The virus is transmitted in urine or nasal or eye secretions of infected dogs.


Canine Parvovirus (Parvo) is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause serious or even fatal disease in unvaccinates dogs, particularly puppies.  The symptoms are vomiting, bloody diarrhea, weakness, and severe dehydration.  The virus can remain infective in the environment for long periods of time, and all dogs should be vaccinated against Parvovirus starting as a puppy, usually at six weeks of age.


Parainfluenza is a virus that is one of the causes of an upper respiratory infection commonly known a “kennel cough”.  It is highly contagious and can be spread through the air.

NOTE: The DA2PP vaccine, commonly referred to as the “Distemper Shot”, protects dogs against canine distemper, infectious hepatitis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza.  This is considered a core vaccine and is recommended for all dogs.


BORDETELLA BRONCHISEPTICA, is another cause of “kennel cough”

LYME DISEASE is spread by ticks and can cause fever, lameness, and organ failure

LEPTOSPIROSIS can cause kidney disease and is transmissible to humans.



Also known as “feline distemper”, panleukopenia is a common highly contagious viral infection of cats, particularly kittens.  It can cause vomiting, dehydration, weakness, and poor appetite.


“FVR” is an upper respiratory infection caused by a feline herpesvirus.  The symptoms include sneezing and ocular and nasal discharge.  Once infected, cats usually carry the herpes virus for the rest of their lives and may become sick when stressed.


Calicivirus is a common, highly contagious cause of upper respiratory infection in cats.  Symptoms are similar to FVR.  In some cases cats may develop painful ulcers on their tongue and mouth.

NOTE: The FVR-C-P vaccine, commonly referred to as the “distemper shot” protects cats against panleukopenia, feline herpesvirus, and calicivirus.  This is considered a core vaccine and is recommended for all cats.


This is a highly contagious viral infection of cats, kittens being the most susceptible.  Some cats never show symptoms, and some cats will develop a fatal disease.  The virus can cause suppression of the immune system, anemia, weakness, and rarely, cancer.   It is recommended that all kittens be vaccinated against this virus, and adult cats if they are at risk of exposure from stray cats.


You should always discuss your pet’s health and particular medical needs with your veterinarian at Meller-James & Associates.  Most puppies and kittens should start receiving vaccinations at six to eight weeks, and have boosters every 3 to 4 weeks until at least 4 months old.  All puppies and Kittens should receive a rabies vaccine at 4 months of age, and then an annual or tri-annual rabies booster after that.

Which vaccines your pet should receive and how often is an important decision for you to make with the help of your veterinarian at Meller-James & Associates.