Laytonsville Veterinary Practice
Laytonsville Veterinary Practice


the first line of defense against preventable disease

Understanding Vaccines

Vaccines have long been considered one of the easiest ways to help pets live long and healthy lives, because they are so effective at preventing many different serious illnesses. When a dog or cat is exposed to the antigens in vaccines, their immune system becomes mildly stimulated and forms an immune response (antibodies). Should that dog or cat ever become exposed to the actual disease-causing organism, their immune system will be prepared to recognize and fend off the virus, thus preventing disease. Most vaccines require two doses, approximately 3 weeks apart, to develop good immunity. After this initial series, vaccines are boosted every 1 to 3 years.

Vaccine risks

Vaccines contain killed or weakened versions of the organism that they protect against, so vaccination does not cause disease. Occasionally, the mild immune stimulation associated with vaccines can cause minor side effects, such as temporary soreness at the injection site or fatigue. Rarely do vaccines cause more serious side effects such as allergic response or fever - though it is always recommended to monitor for these symptoms for several hours after a pet’s first dose of a vaccine.

In cats, there has been research suggesting a correlation between injections and the development of serious tumors called fibrosarcomas at the injection site. While the rate of occurrence for these tumors is very low, discussion with a veterinarian about which vaccines are recommended for your cat based on his or her lifestyle is imperative. Learn more about feline fibrosarcoma…

Often during vaccine appointments, we perform routine testing to check for important diseases. Learn more about routine testing …

Core Vaccines


Rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted via the saliva of infected mammals, most commonly through bite wounds.

Rabies is preventable, but not curable. If contracted, Rabies is fatal in pets, and can be fatal in humans without prompt administration of a post-exposure vaccination series.

The U.S. and other developed countries have seen a drastic reduction in the incidence of Rabies, which is singlehandedly attributable to the Rabies Vaccine.

Because of the seriousness of the disease and the importance of maintaining public health, the State of Maryland mandates that all pets be vaccinated against Rabies.

In adult dogs and cats with previous vaccination history, the Rabies Vaccine is effective for 3 years.

Learn more about Rabies …


Distemper is a combination vaccine that protects against the following serious diseases in dogs :

Distemper - Adenovirus - Parvovirus - Parainfluenza

and the following in cats :

Panleukopenia - Rhinotracheitis / Herpes - Calicivirus

These combination vaccines are considered “core” immunizations by the AAHA because the organisms that they protect against are extremely contagious, and can cause severe gastrointestinal, hepatic and respiratory issues, as well as immune and nervous system disease.

In adult dogs and cats with previous vaccination history, the Distemper vaccine can be given every 3 years.

Non-core Vaccines

Non-core vaccines are immunizations that should be given to dogs and cats depending on their lifestyle and risk of exposure.

Canine Non - Core Vaccines


Commonly called “Kennel Cough", Bordetella is a bacterium that can cause respiratory disease and contagious tracheobronchitis.

Bordetella is highly contagious, and can be transmitted through the air or by direct contact.

Due to the highly contagious nature of this disease, the Bordetella vaccine is required at boarding kennels and grooming facilities.

Dogs should get vaccinated if : they spend any time at a boarding kennel, groomer’s or dog park, or if they are frequently exposed to other dogs whose vaccination history is unknown

Vaccine frequency : every year

Learn more about Bordetella …


The Canine Influenza Vaccine (CIV) is a relatively new combination vaccine that protects against two strains of influenza that affect dogs:

H3N8 Of equine origin, this strain of the influenza virus was first noted in greyhounds in Florida.

H3N2 Of avian origin, this strain was first detected in the U.S. in 2015.

Both strains of influenza are highly contagious and can cause fever and respiratory symptoms such as cough, nasal congestion and eye discharge. Although uncommon, pneumonia can be a complication of this disease, which can be fatal.

Dogs should get vaccinated if : they spend time at a boarding kennel, groomer’s or dog park, or if they are frequently exposed to other dogs whose vaccination history is unknown

Vaccine frequency : every year

Learn more about Influenza …


Lyme disease is a bacterial disease that can affect both pets and people.

Lyme is the fastest growing bacterial disease in the U.S., and is broadening in area affected geographically. Maryland is one of 12 Northeastern states with the highest prevalence of Lyme infection in the U.S.

Some of the complications associated with Lyme disease include fever, lameness, joint swelling, lethargy, and kidney or liver issues.

The Lyme vaccine alone isn’t 100% effective at preventing Lyme Disease, but has been shown to be up to 86% effective, and is recommended along with tick preventatives and annual testing to significantly reduce the risk of developing this disease.

Part of our annual wellness check includes a simple blood test that checks for Heartworm and 3 tickborne diseases, including Lyme. Learn more …

Dogs should get vaccinated if : they may have any exposure to ticks - even in the backyard. Dogs who have frequent access to tall grass or wooded areas are at increased risk.

Vaccine frequency : every year

Learn more about Lyme …


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is transmitted through the urine of wild animals.

The bacteria that causes Leptospirosis can be found in affected soil and water, including backyard spaces where deer, rodents or other wildlife may roam.

Leptospirosis can infect humans, most frequently through contact with affected water sources.

Left untreated, Leptospirosis can lead to permanent liver and kidney disease, and be fatal.

Dogs should get vaccinated if : they have access to soil or water that may contain the disease-causing bacteria. This includes backyards with any exposure to wildlife, farms, fields and wooded areas. Hunting dogs and dogs who spend time around bodies of water may also be at increased risk.

Vaccine frequency : every year

Learn more about Leptospirosis …

Feline Non - Core Vaccines

Feline Leukemia

The Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) affects 2 - 3% of all cats in the U.S.

FeLV is extremely infectious amongst cats, and is transmitted via multiple pathways including saliva, nasal discharge, urine, feces and milk.

Cats can be carriers of the Leukemia Virus, even if they aren’t symptomatic. Due to the potential for virus latency, it is essential that all new cats be tested for viral infection, as cats carrying the virus are likely to infect other cats within the household.

There is no definitive cure for the Leukemia Virus, which has the potential to trigger several fatal diseases, including Lymphoma, Leukemia, and non-regenerative anemia.

Cats should be vaccinated if : they have any access to the outdoors, or if they have any exposure to other cats who may be carrying this virus.

Vaccine frequency : every 2 years

Learn more about Feline Leukemia …