Distemper Vaccine For Dogs And Cats
Distemper vaccine is recommended for both dogs and cats since distemper can be a fatal disease for either. Initial distemper vaccines should be administered to both puppies and kittens, though the age at which the vaccine should be first administered and the frequency of booster shots is different in dogs and cats.
Canine Distemper And The Distemper Vaccine - Dogs normally get their first distemper shots when they are around 7 weeks old. A booster shot should be given at about 20 weeks, and after that shots are usually administered yearly, although an increasing number of veterinarians have taken a position that canine distemper vaccine shots are not needed more frequently than about every third year.
The distemper shot a puppy or grown dog receives does not solely consist of the distemper vaccine, but is usually an all-in-one shot containing 5 to 7 different vaccines, including distemper. What is commonly called a distemper shot usually contains not only the distemper vaccine, a core vaccine, but the CAV2 hepatitis vaccine, the parvovirus vaccine, the leptospirosis vaccine, and the parainfluenza vaccine. The latter is a non-core vaccine which protects the dog against "kennel cough", an irritating but non life-threatening condition. Some all-in-one shots also contain the coronavirus vaccine, a vaccine intended primarily for puppies. The coronavirus is thought by many to be effectively kept under control by the distemper vaccine, and therefore is usually not administered to dogs other than puppies.
Senior dogs are in general less susceptible to distemper, and most vets feel that the frequency of inoculation can be spaced out, though the older dogs still should receive a distemper vaccine inoculation occasionally.
Feline Distemper And The Distemper Vaccine - When distemper is the topic of discussion, most people think of it as being primarily a canine disease, but cats can suffer from distemper as well. Feline distemper occurs rarely once kittens have been vaccinated, and most often occurs among feral cats, barn cats, or any cat that has not received a distemper vaccination as a kitten. The culprit is normally the parvovirus, which not only can be life-threatening to a cat, but is also highly contagious.
A Virus That's Everywhere - The feline distemper virus is ubiquitous in that it is extremely hardy. It can survive for up to a year at normal temperatures, can withstand freezing, and is not harmed by most disinfectants with the exception of household bleach, which will usually kill it within minutes. Being ubiquitous, means the virus is practically everywhere and almost every cat will at one time or another be exposed to it. Not all cats exposed come down with a case of feline distemper. That depends a good dealt on the condition of the animal's immune system. Feline distemper, should it take hold, is much more lethal than is canine distemper.
Summary - The bottom line is that every household cat or dog, and all cats and dogs for that matter, should be vaccinated with a distemper vaccine at an early age whenever possible. We have a tendency to worry less about cats, as they are usually given an all-in-one vaccination as kittens which gives more or less permanent protection against distemper. Cats which have not been inoculated, especially cats that spend a great deal of time out of doors, are quite vulnerable to the virus, much more so than dogs, with more telling consequences. Most veterinarians do a very good job of keeping track of pet inoculations, and of letting pet owners know when its time for a booster shot. It's in the best interest of your pet to follow your veterinarian's recommendations, even though at times it's an expense we would like to do without.