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Vaccines Can Save Lives

| October 27, 2023
Understanding the Importance of Canine and Feline Vaccinations

As pet parents, we all want the best for our beloved furry companions, and ensuring their good health is paramount. One of the most effective ways to safeguard our pets from potentially life-threatening diseases is through vaccinations. Like humans, vaccines play a crucial role in training an animal’s immune system to protect against infectious agents. In this article, we will explore the benefits and risks of canine and feline vaccinations, helping you to make informed decisions for your pet’s wellbeing.

Protecting Your Canine Companion

Vaccinations play a crucial role in safeguarding our beloved pets from life-threatening diseases. For dogs, the importance of vaccinations cannot be emphasized enough. Here are some of the key vaccinations that can protect your pet from contracting diseases.

Canine Distemper

This highly contagious and severe viral disease affects multiple body systems and often leads to death. The virus spreads through respiratory droplets and can be shed in various bodily fluids.

Canine Hepatitis

Caused by canine adenovirus-2, this viral infection impacts the liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and eyes, leading to serious complications, including liver or kidney disease.

Canine Parainfluenza

A virus that can contribute to canine infectious respiratory disease, causing bouts of harsh, dry coughing.


A highly contagious virus that affects all dogs, with puppies being particularly vulnerable. It leads to severe symptoms, including bloody diarrhea and extreme dehydration, and can be fatal without
prompt veterinary attention.

Protecting Your Feline Friend

Core vaccines for cats play a pivotal role in safeguarding the health and well-being of our feline companions. FVRCP, rabies, and FeLV vaccines are among the most critical immunizations your cat should receive to protect them from life-threatening diseases and reduce the risk of transmission to other animals and humans.

Feline Panleukopenia (FVRCP)

Feline Panleukopenia, commonly known as “feline distemper,” is a highly contagious viral disease that affects cats of all ages. This virus attacks the rapidly dividing cells in a cat’s body, primarily targeting the bone marrow, intestines, and lymph nodes. FVRCP stands for Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR), Calicivirus (C), and Panleukopenia (P), and it is a combination vaccine that provides protection against these three serious diseases.

  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR): This is caused by the feline herpesvirus, leading to severe respiratory issues, sneezing, coughing, and eye discharge. It can be especially dangerous for kittens and older cats.
  • Calicivirus (C): Calicivirus causes upper respiratory symptoms and oral ulcerations, making it painful for cats to eat and drink. In severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia.
  • Panleukopenia (P): Feline Panleukopenia, as mentioned earlier, can result in severe gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. It is often fatal, especially
    in young kittens.


Rabies is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans, and it poses a threat to both cats and humans. While the incidence of rabies in domestic cats is relatively low compared to wildlife species like raccoons and bats, the risk remains. Vaccinating your cat against rabies not only protects them but also safeguards public health by reducing the risk of transmission to humans and other animals.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

Feline Leukemia Virus is a viral infection that affects cats, weakening their immune system and making them susceptible to various other diseases. The FeLV vaccine is especially important for cats that spend time outdoors or come into contact with unknown cats. It can prevent this deadly disease and ensure a longer and healthier life for your feline friend. Vaccinations act as a vital shield, fortifying your dog’s and cat’s immune system to combat potential threats effectively. By adhering to a well-tailored vaccine schedule, you provide your furry friend with the best chance of living a long, healthy life. Talk to your veterinarian about a personalized vaccination plan that aligns with your pet’s lifestyle and risk factors. Protecting your loyal companion through vaccinations is a small step that can make a world of difference in their overall wellbeing.

This article was originally published in the Fall Edition of Toronto Humane Society’s quarterly magazine, Animal Talk. You can read the full magazine for free via issuu. Our city is in crisis and it needs your help. Click here to learn how you can keep families whole during uncertain times.