608-834-8118    |    1512 N. Bristol St. Sun Prairie, WI 53590    |    Mon - Fri 8 AM - 6 PM

Cat Vaccines

I have heard many different views on vaccines for my pets. What is the best vaccines to give my dogs and cats?

Vaccines have had a tremendous positive impact on the lives of our companion animals since they have come into wide use over the past 35 years. Despite the wide prevalence of these products, there remains a significant amount of confusion and disinformation about vaccines and the role they play in keeping our pets healthy.

Vaccinations are currently available for many diseases, ranging from Distemper to Rabies to gingivitis. Recent years has seen an emergence of a large number of newer vaccines, as well as research into established vaccines that have prompted reevaluation of these older vaccines.  The Sun Prairie Pet Clinic is constantly evaluating vaccination recommendations when new information and products become available.

Current information regarding vaccines in dogs and cats groups each vaccine into one of three categories – Core, Non-core, and Not Recommended.

  •  Core vaccines are recommended for every dog or cat regardless of lifestyle, age, or breed. In general, these include the Distemper combination and Rabies vaccines.
  •  Non-core vaccines are recommended only for certain members of the population. Individuals that will benefit from these vaccines will vary according to their age, lifestyle, breed, or other factors. These vaccines are used after consultation between the doctor and the owner of the pet. Examples of non-core vaccines that our hospital uses include Lyme disease vaccination, Leptospirosis vaccine, and Kennel Cough (Bordetella) vaccine.
  •  Not recommended vaccines are neither advised by our staff nor stocked at the hospital.


Canine Vaccine Recommendations


Rabies can affect any mammal and attacks the nervous system. This disease is widely distributed though the world and causes death in almost every case it is seen. This vaccine is considered a core vaccine and is required by law.


Canine Distemper can affect the digestive, respiratory, skin, and nervous systems. It is widely distributed and carries a poor prognosis once contracted. Symptoms can range from sneezing, coughing, vomiting and diarrhea, to changes in the foot pads, to convulsions and loss of consciousness. The vaccine is considered a core vaccine and is strongly recommended.

Canine Infectious Hepatitis

Infectious Hepatitis is caused by canine adenovirus type-1 (CAV-1). This virus attacks the liver and results in several symptoms including vomiting, lethargy, abdominal pain, eye damage, and neurological symptoms. Though many dogs that contract the disease survive with few complications, there is no treatment, and severe problems can result from infection. Prevention is provided to dogs by vaccinating with a very similar modified CAV-2 virus (which is a cause of mild upper respiratory infections in dogs), which provides immunity against both diseases. This vaccine is considered a core vaccine and is strongly recommended.

Canine Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease of dogs and other wild members of the dog family. This virus causes severe gastrointestinal damage and results in symptoms of severe vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and death. This disease is very widespread throughout the world and is a major cause of illness and death in unvaccinated puppies. Many variants have been identified, but vaccination with the current vaccine appears to provide immunity to all types. This vaccine is considered a core vaccine and is strongly recommended.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria carried by specific ticks in North America. For a dog to become infected it must to bitten by a tick carrying the disease. Lyme disease is found in Wisconsin more frequently than most other states in America in both dogs and people! This vaccine is not a core vaccine but is recommended for many dogs in our practice, especially dogs that have an increased risk of encountering the disease. Examples of at risk dogs includes hunting dogs, farm dogs and others that live primarily outdoors, dogs that go camping or into nature preserves and parks, especially dogs that travel to the northern parts of our state.

Bordatella (‘Kennel Cough’)

Kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis) is a highly contagious disease of the upper respiratory tract in dogs. It received its name because it spreads quickly in dogs kept in close quarters, but a dog does not need to be kenneled to get this disease. There is no treatment, but most dogs will recover with nursing and symptomatic care. This vaccine not a core vaccine, but is recommended for dogs that will be kenneled in the next 12 months. Many boarding facilities require this vaccine before your dog will be admitted.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection in mammals that can invade the liver, kidneys, vascular system, among others. The symptoms are varied and this disease can mimic others, making it challenging to diagnose in some cases. There are a multitude of variants of this bacterium (worldwide there have been over 100 types identified); in North America there are 6 of importance. Vaccinations against one type do not protect against the other variants; therefore an effective vaccine should include as many types as possible. This vaccine is not considered a core vaccine and is recommended only in dogs that have an increased chance of encountering the bacteria based on individual lifestyle.


This virus attacks the gastrointestinal tract of dogs, causing vomiting and diarrhea. Studies into this disease and its vaccine have concluded that the disease is not a major cause of illness in dogs and the vaccine is poorly effective. Because of this, this vaccine is not recommended for any of our patients; it continues to be a component of many vaccines available for dogs, however.

Porphyromonas Vaccine (Gingivitis Vaccine)

This is a very new vaccine that targets those agents responsible for the accumulation of plaque and tartar on the teeth in dogs. This vaccine has not been used for a long enough time to have a history, though initial testing appears to be encouraging. This vaccine is not a core vaccine and is recommended only on an individual basis in susceptible dogs.

Feline Vaccine Recommendations


Rabies can affect any mammal and affects the nervous system. This disease is widely distributed though the world and causes death in almost every case it is seen. This vaccine is considered a core vaccine and is required by law.

Feline Distemper

Feline Distemper is also known as Feline Panleukopenia. Is is very similar to Canine Parvovirus; it is not related to Canine [...]

By |September 14th, 2013||

I have heard that there are some vaccines that are safe and some that are dangerous for my cat. How can I decide which ones to have done?

As a young kitten there are a number of communicable diseases that can be easily prevented with routine vaccination. The use of routine vaccines has reduced the number of these cases that we see dramatically in the past years. Despite this, these diseases are still present and vaccination continues to be the best option for preventing them.

Vaccination protocols in cats has received a significant amount of attention in the past several years as new information has emerged regarding the efficacy of vaccination, the duration of immunity from disease, and the potential drawbacks of vaccination. Dr. Vitale and the staff at the Sun Prairie Pet Clinic constantly review available information regarding vaccines and use them in accordance with established recommendations published by the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Kitten vaccinations begin at or near 8 weeks of age. Kitten vaccine protocols include feline Distemper (Parvovirus), Calicivirus, and Rhinotracheitis (RCP) as core vaccines, with other vaccinations used on an as needed basis. The RCP vaccine is given every 3 to 4 weeks until 16 weeks of age; at that age the last vaccine is protective for 1 year. At that time this vaccine is boosted for another year; after that time the RCP is boosted every three years. Rabies vaccines for cats are often given between 12 and 16 weeks of age. Initial vaccination is good for 1 year. Currently the Sun Prairie Pet Clinic recommends annual vaccination with a 1-year rabies vaccine specifically for cats after that time.

Vaccination for Feline Leukemia Virus is recommended as a kitten and boosted at 1 year of age. After that time the continued use of this vaccine is based on the lifestyle of the cat. Outdoor cats have a greater chance of encountering this disease and vaccination for Feline Leukemia in these patients should be strongly considered. Indoor cats that have no contact with cats in the outside environment have a significantly smaller chance to encounter this disease; because of this vaccination for Feline Leukemia in these patients is done based on the discretion of the owner.

Additional vaccinations for cats exist in veterinary medicine. Examples of these vaccines include ones for ringworm, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, Chlamydophila, Bordatella, and Giardia vaccines. The questionable usefulness of some of these vaccines and the potential risks associated with additional vaccinations prevents the Sun Prairie Pet Clinic from routinely recommending these vaccines in every feline patient. Some patients may be candidates for these, however. Discussing your cat’s lifestyle with our staff allows us to tailor a vaccine protocol for your cat, giving the protection that your cat needs without the risks of excessive vaccine exposure.

If you have questions about vaccine options available for your cat please call us at 608-834-8118 to speak with a member of our medical staff, or email us at [email protected]

By |September 14th, 2013||