Pet vaccinations are used to prevent serious illnesses in pets. The components of the vaccines help your pet develop antibodies against certain diseases that can potentially be lethal. The vaccines and schedule of the vaccinations depend on the species of your pet, their age, and lifestyle. Not all vaccinations are core vaccines, meaning they’re not always necessary. Some vaccines are only necessary based on your location and lifestyle.

Pets today can live longer, healthier lives than ever before—in part because of vaccines that help protect them from deadly infectious diseases. Over the years, vaccines against dangerous diseases have saved millions of pets and virtually eliminated some fatal diseases that were once common. Unfortunately, many infectious diseases still pose a significant threat to dogs and cats that are unvaccinated. Although vaccine programs have been highly successful and vaccines are considered routine today, we (as caregivers) and you (as pet parents) cannot afford to become complacent about keeping pets up-to-date on their vaccinations.

Many vaccines are available for use in dogs and cats, but not every pet needs every available vaccine. Some vaccines are considered core vaccines and should be administered to all pets, whereas other vaccines are optional and may be recommended for pets based on a variety of factors, such as their risk for exposure to disease. Vaccine recommendations can also change throughout a pet’s life, as travel habits and other variables change. We will consider all these factors as we determine which vaccines your pet should have.

We also offer titers, which may be performed prior to revaccination.  A titer is a blood test to determine the antibodies present to see if your pet is already adequately protected, in which case a vaccination may not be needed.

At Burke Animal Clinic, our veterinarians customize care to the needs of you and your pet. Vaccinations should be discussed at your pet’s annual exam so the doctor can help you determine which vaccines are needed to protect your pet.  Once your pet has already had their year booster of a vaccine, the doctor may offer the option of a blood titer for some vaccines to see if a pet has immunity and may not need the vaccine.  We also recommend separating vaccines so they’re not all given on the same day.

Canine Vaccines 

Our vets at Burke Animal Clinic recommend getting your dog two core vaccines.    The first is the rabies vaccination.  This vaccination protects both cats and dogs from the deadly rabies virus, which is passed on to humans from the bite of an animal infected with rabies.  Raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes are the most common carriers in our area.  In Fairfax County, a rabies vaccination is required by law for cats and dogs.  This vaccine is usually given at four months, then again a year later.  After that, it is required every three years for dogs.

The second core vaccine is most commonly referred to as the distemper vaccine. This is usually a combination vaccine that protects against multiple viruses.  We use a vaccine that protects against distemper, hepatitis, parvo, and parainfluenza.  This vaccine is usually started at 8 weeks with vaccines every 3-4 weeks until your pet is 16 weeks old.  A booster is required at one year, then every three years after that.

There are other vaccines that we do not consider a core vaccine, but may be necessary based on you and your pet’s lifestyle.  For instance, the Bordetella vaccine protects against kennel cough.  This vaccine is usually required for daycare, boarding, and groomers and is also a good idea for dogs that go to the dog park.  It is given annually.   Some facilities require the canine influenza vaccine, but we don’t see influenza cases in this area so we administer it on request.  It requires an initial vaccine with a second one 3-4 weeks later, then annual after that.  Other vaccines pet owners may consider are the Lyme vaccine and the lepto vaccine.  They each require a second vaccine a few weeks later, then annually after that.  These may be considered for dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors in the woods or swimming in lakes and streams.  It’s best to discuss vaccinations with the veterinarian to figure out which ones are needed for your pet.

Feline Vaccinations  

We recommend two core vaccines for cats.  The rabies vaccine mentioned previously is very important for cats and required by law in Fairfax County.  We use a special Purevax vaccine for cats that reduces the risk of problems at the injection site. This requires vaccination annually.  The second core vaccine is also commonly referred to as the distemper vaccine or FVRCP.  It is a combination vaccine and fights three feline viruses: rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia.   For kittens, a series of vaccines is given until 16 weeks with a booster a year later, then every three years after that.   A third vaccine is strongly recommended for outdoor cats and protects against feline leukemia.  The first vaccine is given at 12 weeks with another one to four weeks later.  A booster is given at one year, then every three years after that.

Vaccinations are part of routine wellness care for your pet.  There are a lot of vaccines available, but that doesn’t mean your pet needs them all.  Our veterinarians will work with you to answer your questions and determine which ones are needed for your pet.   Our veterinarians at Burke Animal Clinic are here to help. It is best if the pet has no apparent health issues at the time of the vaccine.  Therefore, at Burke Animal Clinic, an exam is required for all vaccines unless your pet has been in for a wellness exam within four months of administering the vaccines.

Schedule an Appointment Today!

Protecting your pet is our primary goal, so developing an appropriate vaccine schedule for your pet is important to us. Call us today at 703-569-9600 to set up an appointment with Burke Animal Clinic.