Pet vaccinations can provide protection against several diseases by lessening their severity or preventing them altogether. At Plantation Midtown Animal Hospital in Plantation, our veterinarians will consider your pet’s health and lifestyle factors to customize a vaccination program for optimal protection throughout their life.

Guidelines for Dog, Cat and Exotic Mammal Vaccinations

Our veterinarians will develop an immunization plan for your pet based on the guidelines established the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

This plan will consider your pet’s medical history, age, hereditary factors, travel and lifestyle. Some pets do not leave their homes and have very little opportunity for exposure to infectious diseases, while others have increased exposure based on their activities. Whether your dog goes to the dog park on a regular basis or your cat likes to wander outside are important factors used to develop a vaccination protocol for pets in South Florida.

Common Vaccinations for Pets

Canine Vaccinations

  • DHPP: A combination canine vaccine that protects against distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvovirus.
    • Distemper is a contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs. The virus can also be found in wildlife such as foxes, coyotes, and raccoons.
    • Parvo is a virus that affects dogs’ gastrointestinal tracts and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces, environments, and people.
  • Rabies: This virus is a disease that attacks the nervous system. This vaccine is required by law for all dogs in Florida. This virus is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection.
  • Bordetella: Comparable to human whooping cough, Bordetella is an upper respiratory bacterial infection. It is highly contagious, and any dog that is exposed to another dog, whether on a walk around the neighborhood or boarding in a kennel, is generally recommended to be vaccinated.
  • Leptospirosis: This bacterial infection is found worldwide in soil and water. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be spread from animals to people. We have seen an increase of these infections across the US, but it is especially common in areas with warm climates and high amounts of rainfall, like South Florida. Common risk factors include exposure to canals, lakes, standing water, or potentially infected wildlife, including those that dwell in our backyards, or contact with other dogs. This vaccine is often included with a distemper combination vaccine.

Feline Vaccinations

  • FVRCP: A combination vaccine that protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia.
    • Rhinotracheitis and calicivirus are common, highly contagious upper respiratory viruses.
    • Panleukopenia is a highly contagious viral disease in cats similar to parvo in dogs. It infects and kills cells that are rapidly growing and dividing, such as those in the bone marrow and intestines.
  • Rabies: This virus is a disease that attacks the nervous system. This vaccination is required by law for all cats in Florida. This virus is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection.
  • FELV (feline leukemia): A viral infection that is transmitted through close contact or from a mother to her fetuses. The FELV vaccine is recommended after testing for the disease and included in kitten boosters, then generally only recommended for cats that go outdoors.

Exotic Mammal Vaccinations

Ferrets, skunks and foxes should receive rabies and distemper vaccinations annually. Other mammals (primates, kinkajous, etc.) will receive vaccinations based on species and clinical recommendations.

Protecting Puppies and Kittens

Due to their immature immune systems, puppies and kittens are highly susceptible to infectious disease and must receive a series of properly staged pet vaccinations. As a young animal grows, their mother’s antibodies begin to decrease, which is when the series of puppy or kitten vaccinations are scheduled; usually 3-4 weeks apart. For most puppies and kittens, the final vaccination in the series is administered at about 4 months of age. Kittens should be tested for feline leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) at their first visit, if not done previously.

Keep Your Pet Up-To-Date

Keeping up with your pet’s annual or bi-annual wellness visits ensures that you will both have many happy years together. Remember that your pet’s medical needs and risk to certain diseases will change over time. Our pets are living longer than ever thanks to advances in veterinary medicine.