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Protect your pet.


How Pet Vaccines Work

A vaccine is a deactivated version of the live disease organism we wish to protect your pet against. While it can't convey the actual disease to your pet, it resembles the disease closely enough to make the immune system react to it by producing antibodies. These antibodies then guard your pet against the real thing as long as the vaccine remains potent -- once it nears the end of its potency, a booster shot must be administered to keep up the protection.

Pet vaccines are especially important in light of the fact that puppies and kittens aren't born with any disease resistance of their own. Any resistance "borrowed" from their mother (it comes naturally through the colostrum while nursing) vanishes after the first few weeks of life, making vaccination a must.

Core Pet Vaccinations and Elective Pet Vaccinations

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Core vaccinations are critical for your pet's everyday health. Your Fairfax veterinarian typically administer these vaccinations to puppies and kittens as part of their routine wellness regimen. Core vaccinations include:

  • Rabies – Rabies is invariably fatal and can be transferred through the bite of an infected animal, so dogs and cats both need this vaccination. Since Rabies can be transmitted to people, there is a legal requirement that all dogs and cats in Marin receive Rabies vaccination. While we do not enforce this county ordinance, we make sure to educate our clients about it.
  • Canine hepatitis – Dogs need a canine hepatitis vaccination to protect them from this serious liver ailment.
  • Parvovirus – Parvovirus causes catastrophic digestive or cardiac symptoms in dogs, sometimes leading in death. It is also highly contagious.
  • Distemper – Distemper comes in canine and feline versions, so both kinds of animals need this vaccination.
  • Calicivirus – This virus can cause severe oral ulcerations, upper respiratory infections or even symptoms of lameness in cats.
  • Rhinotracheitis – Rhinotracheitis, also called felne herpesvirus type 1, causes severe respiratory infections as well as conjunctivitis in cats.
In addition to core pet vaccinations, there are other vaccinations that are considered non-core or elective. Your Fairfax veterinarian may recommend them if your pet is at special risk of infection. Bordetella, for example, is a respiratory infection that can spread among animals kept in close quarters (hence the nickname "kennel cough"). If you plan on boarding your pet, we may advise a Bordetella vaccination beforehand. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection carried in wild animals, especially rodents, and is spread through their urine. We will discuss whether or not your dog may need this vaccination. And feline Leukemia Virus in another non-core vaccine that makes sense for many outdoor or indoor/outdoor, younger cats.