The Veterinarians at West Park Animal Hospital get a lot of questions about vaccines. While dogs and cats both need vaccines, we’ll focus this post specifically on our canine patients, especially puppies but also older dogs. It is quite normal to wonder why our dogs get so many vaccines, and we know you want what is best for them. We want the same, and we will spend quality time during your appointment to talk with you about your pet’s vaccine schedule. We do recommend certain vaccines for all dogs as these protect against diseases that are common or extremely life threatening. Other vaccines are optional, and the veterinarian’s recommendation will be based on your dog’s individual lifestyle.

Common vaccines for almost all dogs are the rabies vaccine, which is required by law, and the combo vaccine that includes protection against the diseases, parvo and distemper. This combo vaccine is commonly referred to as a Distemper-Parvo or a DAPP, and also provides protection against two other viruses, Adeno virus and Parainfluenza virus. This combination vaccine is usually given several times as a puppy. These multiple boosters ensure that your puppy is protected at their most vulnerable point. Both Rabies vaccine and the combo vaccine can be given every three years after a one-year booster. As our pets age and have gone through several boosters it is normal to wonder if they need to continue getting these injections. Some owners prefer to pursue getting a titer checked to see if their pet is adequately protected. This is a way to check if a pet is protected before revaccinating. We certainly do these titers when we feel they are in the best interest of the pet. Like most things in medicine there are benefits and drawbacks associated with doing a titer instead of a vaccine, but our doctors are happy to talk you through all of your options.

Other common vaccines that we might recommend for a dog include Bordetella, Leptosporosis, and Influenza. These recommendations are based on lifestyle. Bordetella is frequently requested by boarding facilities and dog daycares, as this is a common respiratory disease that occurs in areas where your dog might come into contact with other dogs. It should be considered in any dog that frequent boarding facilities, grooming parlors, dog parks or other high-traffic areas. Leptosporosis is a disease spread by wildlife and has grown more prevalent in Florida recently. Our Westchase office is fortunate to be located in an area with abundant natural treasures including wildlife and preserves and because of this we often recommend leptospirosis vaccine to pets who explore outside in our surrounding communities of Keystone, Odessa, and Oldsmar. Finally, Influenza has become a national news story recently. There were a couple strains of flu in pets, and though it hasn’t been shown to be spread to people, we know it is quite contagious to other dogs. There have been reported cases throughout central Florida.

Other vaccines available but less commonly given in Florida include Lyme and rattlesnake vaccines. Lyme vaccine is very important for pets from areas where this disease is common, particularly the northeast. If a dog spends part of the year in an area where they have a lot of lyme disease, our doctors would be happy to speak with you about disease, vaccination, and tick prevention. Rattlesnake vaccine is not usually recommended but can rarely be beneficial for pets who travel out west.

As always, the veterinarians at West Park Animal Hospital want you to feel comfortable with the care your pet is getting. We’ve designed all of our appointments to provide ample time to discuss all of your concerns and answer your questions. What is most important to us that we provide your pet with the highest level of care by creating an individual plan for each of patients. If you’d like to discuss more about your pet’s needs, call us at (813) 749-6863 for an appointment or conveniently schedule one on our website.