Vaccines in Dogs and Cats / Vacunas en Perros y Gatos

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Photo by Kate Gu on Unsplash

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“Prevention is cheaper than treatment.” A quote that I will forever remember from Dr. Vinu, a primary care veterinarian I worked for during my undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Vaccines are very critical in cats and dogs, and the vaccine series are started at a very young age. Some vaccines even need to be boosted in order for the pet to reach adequate immunity.

There are many different vaccines in cats and dogs. Some vaccines are core vaccines, meaning that they are recommended in every patient, and some are considered lifestyle vaccines, meaning that it depends on what your pet does.

Is your dog frequently boarded at a boarding facility or often goes to grooming, where they might be surrounded by many other dogs? Does your dog go to forest preserves or on camping trips where they can be exposed to ticks? Is your cat a strictly indoor cat or an indoor/outdoor cat?

All of those are great questions that are usually asked at the beginning of your annual wellness exam. Yes, we may ask many, many questions during your pet’s wellness exam, but we are putting the puzzle pieces together to recommend the best vaccine schedule for your pet.

Rabies Vaccine in Dogs AND Cats

Having your pet vaccinated for rabies is required by law. It is recommended that the canine and feline rabies vaccine be administered at 4 months of age. However, it is sometimes given earlier in a shelter setting. The first rabies vaccine is usually a 1-year vaccine, while the following year your pet can get either the 1-year or 3-year vaccine.

Rabies is transmitted via bite wounds, usually by wildlife like skunks, bats, racoons, and foxes. The virus attaches to local muscle cells, then penetrates local nerves and ascends to the brain.

There is no reliable effective treatment for rabies. Infection usually results in death of the animal. Once clinical signs are present, death can occur within 10 days.

If your pet bites another animal or human and is not up to date on their rabies vaccine, depending on their vaccine history, they might have to be confined and observed at a veterinary facility for 10 days. If the animal shows any symptoms or there is suspicion that the pet might have rabies, their brain tissue must be submitted for sampling. This means that they must be humanely euthanized for tissue submission.

Regulations can vary by state or county, so it is important to keep up with current regulations. Visit for more information regarding regulations in your area. Ultimately, prevention consists of vaccination as well as limiting exposure to wildlife. Please visit your local veterinarian if your pet is not up to date on the rabies vaccine.

Vaccines in Dogs: Distemper (DAPP)

The second core vaccine in dogs is the distemper vaccine (DAPP). This vaccine protects against the Distemper Virus, Parvovirus, Adenovirus 1 & 2, and Parainfluenza virus. The DAPP vaccine is started at 8 weeks of age and must be boostered at least 3 times, 3 to 4 weeks apart.

This means that your puppy will get a DAPP vaccine at 8 weeks,12 weeks, and 16 weeks old. After the initial puppy series, the vaccine becomes annual. It is also available in a 3-year version, which can be the year after your puppy’s initial vaccine series.

Parvovirus is a common viruses affecting puppies. Any puppy with clinical signs consisting of vomiting and diarrhea should be tested for parvovirus. A diagnosis can be made from a fecal sample.

Intensive supportive care is needed to treat a dog that has been infected with parvovirus. Supportive care consists of hospitalization, fluid therapy, antibiotics, anti-nausea medication, anti-diarrheal medication, and monitoring blood work changes (particularly your dog’s white blood cells). Be prepared for a 5- to 7-day hospitalization as well as an expensive bill, depending on the severity of your dog’s illness.

Without treatment, this virus can be fatal. Prevention is cheaper than treatment.

Vaccines in Dogs: Leptospirosis

Although the canine Leptospirosis vaccine is not a core vaccine, it is highly recommended in areas that have a high rodent population. It can be given as early as 12 weeks of age and needs to be boostered 3 to 4 weeks after an initial dose is given. After that, it is given annually.

Dogs can become infected with this bacterium via open wounds or mucus membranes coming into contact with infected urine or infected water or soil. This bacterium can survive for weeks to months in the environment, so it is important to have your pet vaccinated if you live in an area that has a high rodent population.

Leptospirosis is zoonotic, which means that humans can get infected as well. An infection can quickly lead to organ damage and can affect the kidneys and liver. Clinical signs can be very nonspecific, and treatment consists of antibiotics and supportive care. In severe cases infection can lead to irreversible organ damage.

Vaccines in Dogs: Bordetella

The canine Bordetella vaccine covers Canine Kennel Cough. It requires no booster and is given annually, although in some cases it is recommended to be given every 6 months. It can be delivered either intranasally or subcutaneously.

Bordetella is essentially an infectious bronchitis and is spread within respiratory secretions from an infected dog. In crowded situations with many animals, for example, at a boarding or grooming facility, dogs can be more predisposed to infection due to close contact as well as poor ventilation.

Clinical signs can range from mild to severe symptoms, such as a hacking cough and pneumonia. Treatment consists of antibiotics and quarantine. Keep in mind that many boarding and grooming facilities require this vaccine.

Vaccines in Dogs: Canine Influenza Virus

The canine influenza virus (CIV) vaccine requires one additional booster given 3 to 4 weeks after the initial dose. After that, it is given annually. It can be started as early as 16 weeks old.

Clinical signs can be very similar to Bordetella and can include cough, sneezing, and nasal discharge. Outbreaks are most commonly associated with kennels where dogs are in close contact. This virus is spread via nasal secretions. It can be hard to distinguish Bordetella from CIV, so treatment consists of controlling secondary signs and treating symptomatically. That means antibiotics and cough suppressants, depending on the severity.

Vaccines in Dogs: Lyme Disease

The canine Lyme vaccine is a lifestyle vaccine for dogs that frequently go to forest preserves or camping. If you live in a highly wooded area, this vaccine is highly recommended due to tick exposure. It can be given any time after 16 weeks of age and requires one additional booster 3 to 4 weeks after the first dose. After that, it is an annual vaccine.

Lyme disease is spread via a bite from infected ticks. Lyme disease can be diagnosed with a SNAP 4DX heartworm test, which entails a blood sample from your dog. Results are obtained in no more than 8 minutes. However, a positive Lyme result does not differentiate exposure to the disease from active infection.

Clinical signs can vary and can be very nonspecific. These can include fever, fatigue, and swollen joints. Treatment consists of antibiotics and managing secondary symptoms. Don’t forget your dog’s monthly flea and tick preventatives, which can greatly reduce the chance of infection with Lyme disease.

gray kitty next to medicine bottle
Photo by Danilo Batista on Unsplash

Vaccines in Cats: FVRCP

The Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia (FVRCP) vaccine series, also called the cat distemper vaccine, should be started at 6 to 8 weeks of age. This is boostered every 3 to 4 weeks until your kitten is 16 weeks old. This vaccine is also available in a 3-year version that can be given the year after your kitten’s initial vaccine series.

Feline panleukopenia is similar to parvovirus in dogs. It is a very contagious and life-threatening infectious disease that can spread among cat colonies or cats housed with many other cats. An infected cat sheds the virus via secretions, e.g., feces, vomit, urine, saliva, and mucus membranes. Infection occurs when the virus enters through the nose or mouth.

The virus suppresses the immune system and depletes the cat’s white blood cells, leaving the infected individual immunosuppressed and vulnerable to other infectious diseases. Clinical signs can be nonspecific and include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.

Similar to parvovirus in dogs, treatment of a cat infected with panleukopenia consists of hospitalization, aggressive fluids therapy, antinausea and anti diarrheal medications, and supportive care.

Vaccines in Cats: Feline Leukemia Virus

If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, the feline leukemia vaccine is highly recommended due to socialization with other cats. This vaccine requires an additional booster 3 to 4 weeks after initial dose.

Feline leukemia virus (FLV) is spread through close social contact with saliva, blood, urine, or feces. There is no effective treatment, so treatment consists of supportive care. Prognosis after infection can be variable.

One Last Reminder

Vaccinating your dogs and cats is very important. If your pet is not up to date on vaccines or their annual wellness exam, please schedule an appointment with their primary care veterinarian to get their vaccines updated.

And remember, prevention is cheaper than treatment.

—Dr. Angelica Calderon

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Photo by Lydia Torrey on Unsplash

Vacunas en Perros y Gatos

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La prevención es más barata que el tratamiento. Una cita que siempre recordaré del Dr. Vinu, una veterinaria con la que trabajé durante mis estudios en la UIC.

Las vacunas son muy críticas en gatos y perros y sus series se inician a una edad muy temprana, incluso algunas vacunas necesitan ser reforzadas para que la mascota alcance la inmunidad adecuada. Hay muchas vacunas diferentes en gatos y perros. Algunas vacunas son vacunas básicas, lo que significa que se recomiendan para todos los pacientes, y otras se consideran vacunas de estilo de vida, lo que significa que depende de lo que haga su mascota. Su perro se aloja con frecuencia en un centro de alojamiento o va frecuentemente a la peluquería, donde puede estar rodeado de muchos otros perros? Su perro va a reservas forestales o a viajes de campamento donde puede estar expuesto a las garrapatas? Su gato es un gato estrictamente de interior o un gato de interior/exterior? Todas esas son excelentes preguntas que generalmente se hacen al comienzo de su examen anual de bienestar. Sí, es posible que le hagamos muchas preguntas durante el examen de bienestar de su mascota, pero estamos reuniendo las piezas del rompecabezas para recomendar el mejor programa de vacunas para su mascota.

Vacuna contra la Rabia en Perros y Gatos

La ley exige que su mascota sea vacunada contra la rabia. Se recomienda que la vacuna contra la rabia canina y felina se administre a los 4 meses de edad, sin embargo, a veces se puede administrar antes en un refugio. La primera vacuna suele ser una vacuna de 1 año, sin embargo, al año siguiente, su mascota puede recibir la vacuna contra la rabia de 1 año o de 3 años.

La rabia se transmite a través de heridas por mordedura, generalmente por la vida silvestre como zorrillos, murciélagos, mapaches y zorros. El virus se adhiere a las células musculares locales y luego penetra en los nervios locales y asciende al cerebro. No existe un tratamiento eficaz y fiable para la rabia y la infección suele provocar la muerte del animal. Una vez que los signos clínicos están presentes, la muerte puede ocurrir dentro de los 10 días. Si su mascota muerde a otro animal o humano y no está al día con la vacuna contra la rabia, dependiendo de su historial de vacunas, es posible que deba ser confinado y observado en un centro veterinario durante 10 días. Si el animal muestra algún síntoma o se sospecha que la mascota pueda tener rabia, se debe enviar su tejido cerebral para la toma de muestras. Esto significa que deben ser sacrificados humanamente para la presentación de tejido. Las regulaciones pueden variar según el estado o el condado, por lo que es importante mantenerse al día con las regulaciones actuales. Puede visitar para obtener más información sobre las regulaciones en su área. En última instancia, la prevención consiste en vacunar y limitar la exposición a la vida silvestre. Visite a su veterinario local si su mascota no está al día con la vacuna contra la rabia.

Vacunas en Perros

Distemper (DAPP):

La segunda vacuna básica en perros es la vacuna contra el distemper(DAPP). Esta vacuna protege contra los virus de distemper, el parvovirus, el adenovirus 1 y 2 y el virus de la parainfluenza. La vacuna DAPP se inicia a las 8 semanas de edad y debe reforzarse al menos 3 veces, con 3-4 semanas de diferencia. Esto significa que su cachorro recibirá la vacuna DAPP a las 8, 12 y 16 semanas de edad. Después de la serie inicial de cachorros, se vuelve anual. Esta vacuna también está disponible en un año 3 que se puede administrar el año siguiente después de la serie inicial de vacunas de sus cachorros.

El parvovirus es uno de los virus más comunes que cubre esta vacuna. Cualquier cachorro con signos clínicos que consisten en vómitos y diarrea debe someterse a una prueba de parvovirus y se puede llegar a un diagnóstico con una muestra fecal. Se necesitan cuidados intensivos para tratar a un perro que ha sido infectado con parvovirus y, en última instancia, el tratamiento es de apoyo. La atención de apoyo consiste en hospitalización, terapia de fluidos, antibióticos, medicamentos contra las náuseas, medicamentos contra la diarrea y el control de los cambios en los análisis de sangre (en particular, los glóbulos blancos de su perro). Esté preparado para una hospitalización de 5 a 7 días, así como para una factura costosa, según la gravedad de los síntomas de su perro. Sin tratamiento, este virus puede ser fatal. La prevención es más barata que el tratamiento.


Aunque la vacuna contra la leptospirosis canina no es una vacuna básica, es muy recomendable en áreas que tienen una alta población de roedores. Puede administrarse tan pronto como a las 12 semanas de edad y debe reforzarse 3 o 4 semanas después de administrar la dosis inicial. Después de eso, se da anualmente.

Los perros pueden infectarse con esta bacteria a través de heridas abiertas o membranas mucosas que entran en contacto con orina infectada o agua o tierra infectada. Esta bacteria puede sobrevivir durante semanas o meses en el medio ambiente, por lo que es importante vacunar a su mascota si vive en un área con una gran población de roedores. La leptospirosis es zoonótica, lo que significa que los humanos también pueden infectarse. Esto puede conducir rápidamente a daños en los órganos y puede afectar los riñones y el hígado. Los signos clínicos pueden ser muy inespecíficos y el tratamiento consiste en antibióticos y atención de apoyo; sin embargo, en casos graves, puede provocar daños irreversibles en los órganos.


La vacuna canina Bordetella cubre la tos canina. No requiere refuerzo y se administra anualmente, sin embargo en algunos casos se recomienda administrar cada 6 meses. Hay dos formas disponibles, por vía intranasal y por vía subcutánea.

Bordetella es esencialmente una bronquitis infecciosa y se transmite dentro de las secreciones respiratorias de un perro infectado. En situaciones de hacinamiento donde hay muchos animales en una instalación, por ejemplo, alojamiento o aseo, los perros pueden estar más predispuestos a la infección debido al contacto cercano y a la mala ventilación. Los signos clínicos pueden variar desde síntomas leves a graves, como tos seca, hasta neumonía. El tratamiento consiste en antibióticos y cuarentena durante el tratamiento. Tenga en cuenta que muchas instalaciones de alojamiento y aseo requiere esta vacuna.

Virus de la influenza canina (CIV):

La vacuna contra el virus de la influenza canina requiere un refuerzo adicional administrado de 3 a 4 semanas después de la primera dosis inicial, luego de lo cual se vuelve anual. Se puede iniciar desde las 16 semanas de edad.

Los signos clínicos pueden ser muy similares a los de Bordetella y pueden incluir tos, estornudos y secreción nasal. Los brotes se asocian más comúnmente con perreras donde los perros están en contacto cercano con otros perros y este virus se transmite a través de las secreciones nasales. Puede ser difícil distinguir Bordetella de CIV, por lo que el tratamiento consiste en controlar los signos secundarios y tratar sintomáticamente. Eso significa antibióticos y supresores de la tos, según la gravedad.


La vacuna canina de Lyme es una vacuna de estilo de vida. Esto significa que si tu perro va con frecuencia a reservas forestales o a acampar, o si vives en una zona muy boscosa, es muy recomendable debido a la exposición a las garrapatas. Se puede administrar en cualquier momento después de las 16 semanas de edad y requiere un refuerzo adicional de 3 a 4 semanas después de la primera dosis inicial. Después de eso, es una vacuna anual.

La enfermedad de Lyme se transmite a través de una picadura de garrapatas infectadas. La enfermedad de Lyme se puede diagnosticar con una prueba de gusano del corazón SNAP 4DX, que implica una muestra de sangre para su perro. Los resultados se obtienen en no más de 7-8 minutos. Sin embargo, incluso si su perro tiene un resultado positivo de Lyme, eso no diferencia la exposición frente a la infección activa. Los signos clínicos pueden variar y pueden ser muy inespecíficos. Estos pueden incluir fiebre, fatiga, articulaciones inflamadas, etc. El tratamiento consiste en antibióticos y el control de los síntomas secundarios. No olvide los preventivos mensuales contra pulgas y garrapatas de sus perros, ya que pueden reducir en gran medida la posibilidad de infección con la enfermedad de Lyme.

orange stripe kitty walking toward camera
Photo by Sofia S on Unsplash

Vacunas en Gatos


La serie de vacunas FVRCP (moquillo felino) debe comenzar a las 6-8 semanas de edad. Esta vacuna requiere refuerzos y se refuerza cada 3-4 semanas hasta que tu gatito tenga 16 semanas. Esta vacuna también está disponible en un año 3 que se puede administrar el año siguiente después de la serie inicial de vacunas de sus gatitos.

FVRCP significa rinotraqueítis viral felina, calicivirus y panleucopenia. La panleucopenia felina es similar al parvovirus en perros. Esta es una enfermedad infecciosa muy contagiosa y potencialmente mortal que puede afectar a las colonias de gatos o a los gatos alojados con muchos otros gatos si una persona está infectada. Un gato infectado elimina el virus a través de secreciones, que incluyen heces, vómito, orina, saliva y membranas mucosas. La infección se produce cuando el virus entra por la nariz o la boca. El virus suprime el sistema inmunológico y agota los glóbulos blancos del gato, dejando al individuo infectado inmunosuprimido y vulnerable a otras enfermedades infecciosas. Los signos clínicos pueden ser inespecíficos e incluyen fiebre, vómitos, diarrea y letargo. Similar al parvovirus en perros, el tratamiento de un gato infectado con panleucopenia consiste en hospitalización, fluidoterapia agresiva, así como antináuseas, antidiarreicas y atención de apoyo.

Virus de la leucemia felina

Si su gato es un gato de interior/exterior, la vacuna contra la leucemia felina es muy recomendable debido a la socialización con otros gatos. Esta vacuna requiere un refuerzo adicional de 3 a 4 semanas después de la dosis inicial.

FeLV (virus de la leucemia felina) se propaga a través del contacto social cercano con saliva, sangre, orina, heces. No existe un tratamiento eficaz, por lo que el tratamiento consiste en cuidados de apoyo. El pronóstico después de la infección puede ser variable.

Es muy importante vacunar a sus perros y gatos. Si su mascota no está al día con las vacunas o su examen anual de bienestar, programe una cita con su veterinario de atención primaria para actualizar sus vacunas.

Y recuerda, la prevención es más barata que el tratamiento.

—Dr. Angelica Calderon

Tips for Parenting a Puppy

[Dr. Sullivan's puppy, Winnie]
Meet Winnie.

Life as a new pet parent can be challenging, and to be honest, you never really know what to expect. After losing Oskee, our dog of 14 years, last fall, I knew our family would get a new dog, but we just didn’t know when. We were not in any rush, but over the past few months, we were discussing it more and more.

This past month we adopted a puppy from a rescue in Central Illinois called Hudson’s Halfway Home. I had the privilege of working with this rescue group before moving to Chicago, and they do amazing work. Our family was lucky enough to adopt a 6-month-old puppy, and she has been a great addition to our family.

Even though I see puppies daily, it had been more than 15 years since I had a puppy at home, so I had a lot to think about before bringing Winnie into our family. Here is my list of ways you can help set a puppy up for success.


Most important is creating consistency among all family members to avoid confusion for new puppies. Having a routine that everyone follows around housetraining, feeding, basic commands, and so on will help your new dog catch on quickly.


When it comes to housetraining, it is very important to be proactive early on. Puppies initially will not ask to go outside to go to the bathroom. Anticipating when they may need to go and then providing a small reward once they go outside is key. Additionally, do not confuse puppies by trying to teach them both potty pads and grass early on. I always tell owners if your goal is to train to go to the bathroom outside, that should be started from Day 1. After they are puppy pad trained, they can still be trained to go outside, but it may be more challenging.

Consistent diet

Puppies commonly have intestinal parasites and are also known for eating/chewing on everything. Keeping puppies on a consistent diet will help keep their bowel movements regular and predictable. Feeding an overabundance of treats and/or human table scraps will likely lead to soft stool/diarrhea. When puppies have diarrhea, the frequency of defecation increases, so accidents inside are common, further delaying potty training. Not to mention that a poor diet could make puppies very sick. I always say avoid the human food. It is not a good habit to start at such a young age.

House safety

Be sure you puppy-proof your house and have limitations for your new puppy. I highly recommend crate training. Crates are not to be used as a source of punishment, but a place where puppies feel safe and secure. The training may take time, and you may need to sleep next to the crate initially, but once puppies realize it is their safe place, it is wonderful. Having a dog crate trained also keeps dogs safe when you are away. If crate training is not for you and your puppy, then using baby gates to create boundaries can be used similarly. In addition to boundaries, make sure all garbage cans have lids or are in cabinets. Be sure electrical cords are placed where puppies can’t chew them. Keep all cleaning products away from the puppy. Puppies love socks, so use caution to prevent your puppy from eating your socks.

Preventive care

It is very important to take your new puppy to the vet as soon as possible for an overall health check and vaccines, if needed. Typically, puppies receive vaccines at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age. Additionally, puppies should have an intestinal parasite screen for worms (very common in puppies) and need to be started on heartworm, flea, and tick prevention as young as 6 to 8 weeks of age.


It is very important to socialize puppies with both dogs and people. Puppies mature so quickly that it is important to start socialization very early on.


If you are considering insurance, the best time to purchase is when you have a puppy with, hopefully, no pre-existing problems. Once a problem occurs, most companies will consider it pre-existing and insurance will not cover treatment of that problem the remainder of that pet’s life (allergies and ear infections, for example). There are many insurance companies, so to find one that’s right for you consider whether you are looking for coverage for accidents and illness or full coverage that includes wellness/preventive care.

Over the past three weeks, our family has made changes to our routines to accommodate Winnie. She is adjusting well and, luckily, our house is somewhat puppy-proof because it is somewhat kid-proof (minus all the kids’ toys).

We are crate training her, and she is doing great. She loves her crate and goes in willingly at bedtime. During the day, she prefers never to go in, but when we leave the house, she does great in her crate. When we are home, she goes outside to pee every few hours, and she can make it through the night without an accident. So overall, housetraining is going very well, though there have been a few accidents.

We are both trying to figure each other out. Since she had lived in a kennel setting for 4 months, the grass and leash walking were brand new to her. Now that she is catching on and is gaining confidence outside, she is doing well. She still does not alert us when she needs to go out, so we try to stay proactive in telling her it’s time to go “potty.” With a continued consistent routine, I’m confident we will be accident-free in a short time.

Like many of you, we are thrilled to have a new dog in our home. We love having Winnie in our family. Start early and stay consistent to set your puppy or new dog up for success.

Dr. Drew Sullivan, Medical Director