The human vaccination debate over the last few years has led to public discussions about pet vaccines as well. So we thought we’d take some time and share the Firehouse vaccination philosophy with you.

Our approach with every pet is individualized healthcare. Our goal is to learn as much as we can about your pet’s lifestyle and environment and then make the best vaccine recommendations to protect against harmful diseases they may encounter.

For over 20 years, Firehouse’s founders and our entire veterinary team have taken a conservative, common-sense approach to vaccines. We are pro-prevention, and vaccines are an important piece of any wellness plan for our patients. Like any medication, vaccines are powerful and should be used only when necessary, so we are careful to select vaccinations for each patient based on the risk profile they face throughout their lives.

We regularly review our vaccine guidelines, using research and experience to keep us on the cutting edge. The full guidelines are available on our website. Here are the highlights:

  • Core vaccines for dogs are Rabies and DHPP, a vaccine that protects against:
  • Distemper (causes respiratory and neurologic disease, often fatal)
  • Adenovirus (causes liver disease or hepatitis, can be fatal)
  • Parainfluenza (causes respiratory disease, sometimes severe)
  • Parvovirus (causes gastrointestinal disease, often fatal)

Core vaccines for cats are Rabies and FVRCP, a vaccine that protects against:

  • Rhinotracheitis (a herpes virus, causes respiratory disease, sometimes severe)
  • Calicivirus (causes respiratory disease, sometimes severe)
  • Panleukopenia (a parvovirus, causes gastrointestinal disease, often fatal); to be super-confusing, in the past, this was called “feline distemper”

We recommend a few additional vaccines

  • For many dogs, we recommend the Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine. Although not usually a life-threatening disease, this one is uncomfortable for dogs that get it. Since Central Texas is such a dog-friendly place and many of our patients have busy social lives, we recommend this vaccine pretty frequently. Many boarding and doggy daycare facilities require it.
  • For most dogs, Firehouse also recommends the Leptospirosis vaccine. We see this potentially fatal disease at higher rates than other parts of the country. In addition, leptospirosis is a human health concern. For those reasons, we recommend it to most dog patients.
  • For certain dog patients at high risk, we also recommend the rattlesnake vaccine. This vaccine is not a complete solution, but our experience is that reactions to venomous snake bites are more manageable in dogs that have received this vaccine.
  • Lyme Disease vaccine is a good example of one we do not recommend, except in rare circumstances. Since Lyme Disease is spread by a specific tick that is rare in Central Texas, we do not use it unless one of our dog patients is traveling to specific areas.

In addition to which vaccines to give, we are also careful about how frequently we give them. For our core vaccines (which protect against viruses), long-standing research shows that after an initial series, dogs and cats are protected for extended periods. So we tend to give those vaccines less frequently than most veterinarians. For some of the additional vaccines mentioned, the duration of immunity is shorter so we typically have to give those more regularly to get the benefits.

Because vaccine research and technology are so complex, and the risk of exposure tends to change over time, we like to fine-tune our approach each time a cat or dog patient comes in for a wellness exam.

Please call us with questions, concerns or requests for additional information. We’re eager to engage with you about this topic and can speak about your pet over the phone or in person.

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