Preventive vaccination is one of the simplest and most effective steps you can take to keep your pet healthy. It is much easier to invest in a few low-cost vaccines each year than to deal with the dangerous and potentially deadly diseases they prevent. In addition, fatal diseases including rabies and leptospirosis can be contracted by humans if exposed to an infected animal.
Vaccines work by stimulating your pet's immune system to produce antibodies. If your pet is exposed to a disease they have been vaccinated against, their antibodies will recognize, attack, and neutralize the infectious agent. Because immunity declines over time, and because occasionally new strains of common diseases will necessitate updated vaccine formulas, it is advisable to revaccinate periodically according to your veterinarian's recommendations. We recommend the following core vaccines for dogs: Rabies, Bordetella ("kennel cough"), and DHLPPV-C (distemper/hepatitis/leptospirosis/ parainfluenza/parvovirus/coronavirus); for cats we recommend Rabies, FeLV (feline leukemia virus), and FVRCP (rhinotracheitis/calici/panleukopenia). Dogs who frequent wilderness areas may benefit from vaccines for Lyme disease and/or rattlesnake venom. Young dogs of breeds prone to dental disease may benefit from a porphyromonas vaccine. Ask your vet if you think your dog may need one of these non-core vaccines.
RABIES Rabies vaccinations are legally required in most areas of the U.S. for dogs, and in some areas they are required for cats as well. Rabies is usually transmitted by saliva and infects the nervous system, causing brain damage and death. It can affect all mammals, including humans, and once signs appear is always fatal. Because most rabies is carried by wild animals, vaccinations are especially recommended if your pet spends time outside and may be exposed to local wildlife such as skunks or racoons.
DHLPPV-C This vaccine protects against many common and serious canine health threats including distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, parainfluenza, and coronavirus. All of these diseases cause severe health problems and can be life-threatening. Leptospirosis attacks the liver and kidneys, is spread through urine, and can be contracted by humans.
BORDETELLA Also known as "kennel cough" because it spreads quickly through shelters and boarding facilities, bordetella causes a respiratory disease characterized by a harsh dry cough.
FVRCP This vaccine protects your cat against the two most common causes of feline respiratory disease, rhinotracheitis and calicivirus. It also protects against panleukopenia ("feline distemper"), a virulent and life-threatening parvovirus that is particularly dangerous to kittens and older cats.
FeLV Feline leukemia virus weakens your cat's immune system, leaving them vulnerable to a wide variety of diseases including respiratory infections and cancer.
CDC Rabies Information Site
Fort Dodge Vaccine Information