Small Animal Vaccines

Small Animal Vaccines

All animals are at risk of exposure to various infectious diseases. Vaccination helps prevent these diseases. Vaccines contain killed or modified live (weakened) forms of viruses or bacteria. They stimulate production of antibodies to neutralize the virus or bacteria if your animal is later exposed.

Puppies and kittens require more frequent vaccinations. They ingest antibodies from their mothers. These maternal antibodies decline during the first four months of life and will eventually disappear. This is why they receive a series of vaccinations.


Rabies: Rabies is a viral disease that affects warm blooded mammals including dogs, cats, horses, cattle, wildlife and humans . The virus affects the nervous system. Rabies is always fatal. Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, most commonly bats, skunks, raccoons and fox.

Distemper: Canine distemper is a virus that infects various tissues causing diarrhea, fever, respiratory disease, appetite loss and neurologic signs. The disease is highly infectious and usually fatal.

Infectious Hepatitis: Canine infectious hepatitis (adenovirus) is a virus that infects many tissues including the liver, kidney, spleen and lungs. Dogs develop a fever, abnormal bleeding and a loss of their white blood cells. Chronic kidney or liver disease can result or death.

Parvovirus: Canine parvovirus infects the rapidly dividing cells in the intestinal tract causing fever, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and depression. Most cases are seen in puppies 6-20 weeks old. Severe cases can be fatal. The virus is easily spread due to the large volume of virus in the feces, which contaminates the environment.

Respiratory Disease: The most common causes of infectious respiratory disease is adenovirus type 2, parainfluenze virus and Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria. The disease is very easily transmitted through the air or by direct contact. Upper respiratory infections can progress to pneumonia.

Leptospirosis: Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that infects the kidneys and liver. It is contracted from the urine of infected wildlife, contaminated water or food sources. Leptospirosis can be transmitted to humans by contact through breaks in the skin or mucous membranes.

Lyme Disease: Lyme Disease is a tick-borne bacterial disease. It can cause arthritis, kidney damage and even death. Your dog can be at risk if you live near woods or tall bush.

We vaccinate our puppies starting at 6-8 weeks with the distemper combo vaccine which includes distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza, adenovirus type 2 and leptospirosis.

They continue to receive their vaccines every 3-4 weeks until they are four months old.

One year later, they receive their full vaccinations. In subsequent years, we vaccinate for all the viral diseases every three years and the bacterial diseases every year.


Rabies: Rabies is a viral disease that affects warm blooded mammals including dogs, cats, horses, cattle, wildlife and humans The virus affects the nervous system. Rabies is always fatal. Rabies is transmitted thru the saliva of an infected animal, most commonly bats, skunks, raccoons and fox.

Distemper: Feline distemper also called panleukopenia is a highly contagious often fatal viral disease of cats. Signs of infection include fever, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal pain, tremors and incoordination.

Feline Respiratory Disease: The majority of feline respiratory disease is caused by feline viral rhinotracheitis and feline calcivirus. Clinical signs include nasal and ocular discharge, conjuctivits, ulcers in the mouth, anorexia, depresiion and inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. Cats with FVR can become persistently infected, shedding the virus during periods of stress.

Feline Leukemia: This is a high mortality disease caused by a virus. The virus is usually transmitted by bite wounds and can also be passed from mom to kittens. Feline leukemia suppresses the cats immune system making them susceptible to other infections. These cats may also develop some forms of cancer.

We vaccinate our kittens starting at 6-8 weeks of age and continue every 3-4 weeks until they are 4 months of age, after that they are yearly vaccines. The first rabies vaccine is given at 4 months of age and is good for one year. The subsequent vaccines are good for 3 years.

Breaking News

There have been 70 confirmed cases of Canine Influenza in the State of Michigan, 6 in Livingston County. A vaccine is available, please contact our office for more information. Canine Influenza: Pet Owners’ Guide

Many of our clients are asking about the recent outbreak of Canine Influenza that has been in the news a lot lately. First, it should be said that there have been no reported cases in Michigan. Canine Influenza is not a reportable disease, like Tuberculosis. It has received such a significant amount of attention, if there is a case found in Michigan we will certainly be updating you with that information.

Scientists at Cornell University have recently identified this current strain to be closely related to the Influenza A H3N2 strain, which is in wide circulation in southern China and South Korea. The recent outbreak that we have observed in the Chicago area was originally thought to be the H3N8 strain, which was identified in the US population of dogs in 2004. This is the strain that the current Canine Influenza vaccine is based on, which means that our current vaccine may not be 100% protective but should offer some level of immunity. If you are concerned about your dog or are planning on traveling through the Chicago area, a 2 shot series of the Canine Influenza vaccine is recommended. The second shot should be received at least 2 weeks before traveling.

The first outbreak of Canine Influenza was recognized in racing Greyhounds in 2004 at a track in Florida. From June to August of 2004, outbreaks were identified at 14 tracks in 6 states. In 2006, outbreaks occurred at 20 tracks in 11 states. Since then Canine Influenza has been documented in 30 states and Washington D.C. It is considered endemic in areas of Colorado, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania.

Canine Influenza is transmitted through aerosolized respiratory secretions that can contaminate surfaces such as kennel floors and walls, food and water bowls and toys. The virus can remain viable for up to 48 hours.

Incubation time from exposure to clinical signs is usually 2-4 days. Virtually all dogs exposed to the virus become ill, as there is no naturally acquired or vaccine induced immunity. Like most other influenza viruses, Canine Influenza causes acute respiratory signs – mild to moderate cough lasting 10-21 days. These signs may persist despite antibiotics and cough suppressants. Affected dogs may have a soft moist cough, or it can be a dry cough similar to what we see in Kennel Cough. Nasal and/or ocular discharge, sneezing, lethargy and anorexia may also be observed, as well as a low-grade fever.

Some dogs may be more severely affected with clinical signs of pneumonia, such as high-grade fever and an increased respiratory rate and/or effort.

Treatment is largely supportive, as it is for all viral diseases. Nutritional support, anti-inflammatories to keep fevers down, antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections and, if necessary, intravenous fluids to maintain hydration. Most dogs recover in 2-3 weeks.

In May 2009, the USDA approved the licensure of the the first H3N8 (not the same strain as this current outbreak) Canine Influenza vaccine. The vaccine is intended as an aid in the control of the disease associated with the Canine Influenza infection. Although the vaccine may not prevent infection altogether, it should significantly reduce the severity and duration of clinical signs.

The Canine Influenza vaccine is a “life style” vaccine, and as such, is not necessary for every dog. At this time, the Howell Animal Hospital does have the vaccine available but we recommend that only dogs that may be travelling through the Chicago area or that are attending events that may include dogs from that area be vaccinated.

As always, if you have any question or concerns regarding this disease, the vaccine that is available or any other questions about your companion animals health and well-being, please do not hesitate to call our office.