Reviewed by Dr. Steven ServantezBadger Veterinary Hospital-Janesville

Vaccinations are an important part of your pet’s overall well-being. Giving vaccinations on a regular schedule can help prevent serious, even life-threatening, diseases in dogs and cats.

In general, vaccinations are categorized into core and non-core vaccines. Dr. Cynthia Sweet covered core vaccines for dogs and cats. Today, we’ll delve into the non-core vaccines for dogs and cats.

What Is The Difference Between Core And Non-Core Vaccines?

Core vaccines are recommended for ALL dogs and cats. These vaccines protect against diseases that infect dogs and cats of all life stages and lifestyles. These diseases have high rates of infection, are usually severe and life-threatening, and have the potential to be transmitted to animals and people.

The core vaccines for dogs are rabies, canine distemper, hepatitis (adenovirus), parvovirus, and parainfluenza. At Badger Veterinary Hospital, all but rabies are given as a combination vaccine that also includes leptospirosis, the DA2PPV vaccine. The core vaccines for cats are rabies, herpesvirus (rhinotracheitis), calcivirus, and panleukopenia. Again, all but rabies are given in a combination vaccine referred to as HCP.

Non-core vaccines are for individual pets with unique needs. These optional vaccines should be considered based on a pet’s exposure risk — lifestyle and where you live. In most cases, the diseases these vaccines protect against are often self-limiting or respond well to treatment.

Canine vaccines considered non-core are Bordetella (aka kennel cough), Lyme disease, and canine influenza. Non-core vaccines for cats are the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) vaccine and Bordetella.

What Diseases Do Non-Core Vaccines Protect Against?

BordetellaBordetella bronchiseptica causes inflammation of a dog’s upper respiratory system, which leads to coughing and illness. Your dog is at a higher risk if it comes into close contact with other dogs — a dog who is boarded, attends doggie daycare, visits dog parks, attends dog shows, or visits the groomer. Many boarding facilities require the vaccine, and it is required at our Bed & Biscuits boarding facility and for our pet grooming services.

Canine InfluenzaCanine influenza virus also causes a respiratory infection in dogs. It is not the same as Bordetella. However, the two different diseases result in similar symptoms, like coughing and nasal discharge. Most infected dog show only mild symptoms, but some dogs become very sick and require hospitalization. Risk factors mirror those of Bordetella.

Lyme DiseaseLyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by the deer tick, and it is very prevalent in Wisconsin. Symptoms can include a high fever, lack of appetite, limping, and joint swelling or joint pain. However, some dogs show no clinical signs at all. The disease can progress to kidney failure, which can be fatal, as well as serious cardiac and neurological problems.

Feline Leukemia VirusFeline leukemia virus (FeLV) is one of the most common infectious diseases in cats. The virus impairs a cat’s immune system, making an infected cat more likely to get other infections. It’s also the most common cause of cancer in cats. Unfortunately, there is no cure for FeLV infection at this time. Your cat is at higher risk if it is still a kitten, goes outdoors, is exposed to new cats or has contact with other cats (including multi-cat households), is boarded or groomed, or visits cat shows.

How Do You Know If Your Dog Or Cat Should Receive A Non-Core Vaccination?

If one or more disease risk factor applies to your dog or cat, talk with your veterinarian about vaccination. Your veterinarian can discuss the details of the non-core vaccines and will work with you to customize a vaccination program to protect your pet from serious illness.

Contact Badger Veterinary Hospital today to schedule your dog or cat’s next wellness and vaccination visit!