In recent years, vaccination protocols for pets have come under scrutiny. Some feel vaccines are overused, but there is no definitive consensus on this matter.
uvma strongly recommends vaccinating puppies on a monthly basis for several diseases until they are at least sixteen weeks old. For some breeds, specifically dobermans, pit bulls, rottweilers and their mixes, we extend our vacine recommendation to twenty weeks of age. The "puppy" vaccine most commonly used is a combination vaccine that provides protection against canine distemper, canine viral hepatitis, leptospirosis, canine parainfluenza virus, and canine parvo virus. In some cases, we leave out the leptospirosis component, usually due to a previous vaccine reaction or due to a breed predisposition to vaccine reactions related to this vaccine component. Vaccination through sixteen to twenty weeks helps ensure protection against these diseases.
For adult dogs, vaccination with this 5-way combination vaccine is usually recommended on an annual basis. This recommendation is made based upon FDA approval for these vaccines and manufacturer's label instructions. These recommendation may change as researchers continue to study the whole vaccine issue. There are times when we modifiy vaccine recommendations on an individual basis.
Dogs and cats are required by Virginia law to be vaccinated against rabies, a fatal viral disease that is tranmissible to people. State law requires vaccination at three months of age. The first rabies vaccination administered to a pet expires in one year, regardless of the age at which it is given. All subsequent rabies vaccinations expire in three years. State law requires that rabies vaccinations be administered by a licensed veterinarian or a licensed veterinary technician. Rabies vaccines administered to animals by breeders or private owners are not legally recognized. Unvaccinated animals that are exposed to known rabid animals are sometimes required to be euthanized. If not euthanized, they are subject to extended quarantine periods compared to properly vaccinated animals. Animals without proof of rabies vaccination by a veterinarian are considered unvaccinated. Keeping pets up-to-date on rabies vaccination is a very important part of pet ownership.