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Keep Your Pet Protected with Vaccinations

Vaccines are an essential part of preventative medicine. We as a staff here at Bristol County Veterinary Hospital take into account the risk of vaccination against the risk of getting diseases and will work with each owner, each pet, and their exposure risk to come up with the best vaccination schedule for each individual furry family member. Vaccines we offer at Bristol County Veterinary Hospital and what they are protecting your animal for, are listed below.

Canine Vaccines


Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of mammals. Rabies is transmitted through saliva and blood (bites most commonly) and can be transmitted humans. Massachusetts and Rhode Island law requires protection against the rabies virus through the rabies vaccine. The state laws determine the guidelines and frequency. The initial vaccine is given at 16 weeks of age and is good for 1 year. The vaccine is then boostered within 9-12 months in order to qualify for a 3-year vaccine. Massachusetts and Rhode Island rabies vaccine protocols are slightly different after the dog has qualified for their first 3-year vaccine and are listed below:

Massachusetts: “Once a 3-year, always a 3-year” – As long as your dog’s booster is given within 9-12 months from the initial 1-year vaccine, your dog’s subsequent rabies vaccines will always qualify for a 3-year Massachusetts vaccine and certificate.

Rhode Island: In order to qualify for a 3-year Rhode Island vaccine and certificate, your dog’s rabies vaccine must always be boostered prior to the previous rabies vaccine’s expiration date.

The components of this vaccination are recommended for all puppies. The DA2PP vaccine is a combination vaccine that protects against the following:

D – Distemper; a contagious, viral disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems. Puppies ages 3-6 months are extremely susceptible to infection and once infected, this virus contributes to a high mortality rate. Most puppies infected with distemper will die.

H – Infectious Canine Hepatitis, also known as adenovirus type 1 (Hence the A in DA2PP), is a virus that is transmitted via the urine, feces, or saliva of infected animals. It can affect the liver, kidneys, spleen, and lungs. It causes fever, depression, low white blood cell counts and prolonged bleeding times.

P – Parvovirus; a highly contagious virus that has a high mortality rate when left untreated. Signs include lethargy, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, which causes dehydration. The survival rate of puppies infected with parvo is about 50/50.

P – Parainfluenza; a contagious respiratory infection that is seen in areas with high dog populations, such as boarding kennels, dog parks, and pet stores. It is highly contagious to any dog of any age. Signs of Parainfluenza include coughing, fever, eye, and nasal discharge.


Leptospirosis is a rickettsial bacterial disease that is carried by wild animals and is shed through urine. It is not endemic in all parts of the United States but is endemic in this area. Because of the way it is spread, any animal that touches grass outside in any area where wildlife might have been is at risk of contracting it. Leptospirosis can be fatal by causing acute liver and kidney disease. If not treated immediately, it is 100% fatal. Perhaps what is most worrisome about Leptospirosis is the danger to human health. This is a disease people can get from their pets. It can be transmitted to the human owner by contact with the animal’s urine through cuts in their skin or through mucous membranes. Humans too will come down with liver and kidney failure and it can be fatal to them as well. Because Leptospirosis is common in this area, we highly recommend this vaccine on a yearly basis.

This vaccine prevents Lyme disease caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. The major vector of Lyme disease in the Northeastern U.S. is the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis. Lyme disease affects a variety of species, including dogs, cats, and people. Contrary to popular belief, in the Northeast, one can get ticks in their yard and not just wooded areas. Up to 95 percent of dogs infected with B. burgdorferi do not develop symptoms (people are much more likely to become ill with Lyme disease). Common symptoms when they do arise, cause fever, inappetence, swollen/painful joints, lameness (limping which may be mild at first, then worsen, and may also shift from one leg to another) and or lethargy. Lyme disease in serious instances can cause kidney disease, ultimately kidney failure and death. Because Lyme disease can cause death, and because ticks are seen during the entire year in this area, aside from monthly flea and tick prevention, we highly recommend the Lyme vaccine for any dog that goes outside.
Bordetella "Kennel Cough"
Bordetella is a bacterial respiratory pathogen that can be spread through the air. It is extremely contagious and causes a goose-like honk in dogs. Although this infection rarely leads to death, it can lead to pneumonia. Dogs that board frequently, visit groomers, go to doggy daycare, or are around many other dogs in a kennel type of situation are at highest risk. The vaccine can prevent breakouts of the infection. We recommend this vaccine for any dog that will be in the above situations. This is considered a lifestyle vaccine. It is important to note that this vaccine is required for any dog that boards with us.

The 4DX test is a simple, in-house blood test that provides us with a lot of valuable information about your dog. It is designed as a screening test, which means it can help detect infection related to one of several diseases in seemingly healthy dogs. Just a few drops of blood and eight minutes can help us to determine if your pet has been exposed to:

  • Dirofilaria immitis (heartworms)
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
  • Anaplasma phagocytophilum/platys (anaplasmosis)
  • Ehrlichia canis/ewingii (Ehrlichosis)
Canine Influenza "Dog Flu"
Respiratory infection caused by the H3N8 canine influenza virus. This virus presents with signs and symptoms similar to those seen in kennel cough, such as coughing, fever, lethargy, nasal and eye discharge and in severe cases, pneumonia and even death. Risks of contracting this disease are based on lifestyle much like Bordetella. Therefore, we recommend this vaccine for any dog whose lifestyle is involves grooming, being around a large group of dogs in a kennel situation, dogs that board, and dogs that attend doggy daycare.

Feline Vaccines


Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of mammals. Rabies is transmitted through saliva and blood (bites most commonly) and can be transmitted to humans. While most people think of dogs of being at higher risk of getting Rabies, it is important to note that there are four times more cats being diagnosed with Rabies on an annual basis than dogs. To see how many cases have been reported yearly, go here: https://www.rabiesaware.org/.

Both Massachusetts and Rhode Island law requires protection against the rabies virus through the rabies vaccine. The state laws determine the guidelines and frequency. The initial vaccine is given 16 weeks of age and is good for 1 year.

For cats, we have both the 3-year rabies vaccine should you want your cat to qualify for 3-year coverage AND the 1-year Purevax Vaccine for rabies.

The Purevax Vaccine for Rabies for cats is a vaccine without any adjuvants. This means that your cat is less likely to get any vaccine-associated sarcomas (a vaccine cancer cats are pre-disposed to) from this vaccine. While the incidents of vaccine-associated sarcomas are very rare with the 3-year vaccine, some people may prefer this added protection for their pets.

The 3-year vaccine is the same used for dogs. State requirements can be seen above.

This is a combination vaccine that is recommended for all cats and protects against the following viruses listed below:

FVR– protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis; a respiratory infection that is caused by the herpes 1 virus, known as Feline Herpes Virus. This infection is very contagious from cat to cat via the air or contaminated objects. It is not usually fatal, but will either smolder as a chronic disease or lay dormant in the nerves of the upper respiratory passages with intermittent flare-ups.

C– calicivirus; causes a highly contagious upper respiratory infection similar to FVR. This infection commonly causes oral ulcers and cats infected may remain as carries who shed the virus, infecting other cats.

P – panleukopenia virus (feline distemper); a severe, extremely contagious infection (similar to Parvovirus in dogs) that can be fatal. It causes fever, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration

Feline Leukemia (FeLV)
The leukemia virus is a contagious disease that causes immunosuppression and is one of the leading infectious causes of death in cats. Transmitted from cat to cat through saliva, transmission can occur by grooming, sharing food and/or water bowls. For this reason, we recommend all cats be tested for FeLV when 12 weeks of age or older. If your cat will be indoor only, will not be exposed to other cats, this vaccine may not be necessary. However, if your cat will be venturing outside, coming into contact with other cats of unknown FeLV status, this vaccine is highly recommended.
FeLV/FIV Testing
Testing should be performed prior to vaccinating for FeLV, at approximately 12 weeks of age. It is important to acknowledge that any test done prior to 1 year of age can result in a false negative, therefore testing is recommended again once cats are over 1 year.