Speaking of Pets: A refresher on pet vaccines, in the wake of coronavirus vaccine news | VailDaily.com

Speaking of Pets: A refresher on pet vaccines, in the wake of coronavirus vaccine news

By Joan Merriam
Speaking of Pets

With all the talk about the COVID vaccine, this is a good time to review vaccines for your pets.

All the talk of coronavirus vaccines brings up an important point for pets: are their vaccines up to date?
Special to the Daily

Core vs Non-Core

Core vaccines are those considered essential because of the severity of the disease they protect against. Non-core vaccines are those that your veterinarian may recommend, perhaps because an illness is endemic to your region or a new one has hit your area.


Core vaccines for cats include rabies (even if your cat is indoor-only), feline herpesvirus 1 (FHV1), feline calicivirus (FCV), feline panleukopenia virus (FPV), and feline leukemia virus for kittens.

Non-core vaccines include feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), Chlamydia, and Bordetella.


Core vaccines for dogs are rabies (mandatory in Colorado), canine parvovirus (CPV), canine distemper virus (CDV), and canine adenovirus (CAV).

Non-core vaccines for dogs include canine parainfluenza virus (CPiV), canine influenza virus H3N8, canine influenza virus H3N2, distemper-measles combination vaccine, Bordetella, Borrelia, and rattlesnake.

Future vaccines

In conjunction with other veterinary medicine schools, Colorado State University is conducting the Vaccination Against Canine Cancer Study (VACCS trial), the largest clinical trial conducted to date for canine cancer. The goal of the VACCS trial is to evaluate a new vaccine strategy for the prevention of cancer in dogs.


Whether your pet can suffer ill effects from a vaccine is a major point of contention between not just pet owners but animal health professionals as well. The short answer is yes, adverse reactions can and do happen. The question is whether the risk outweighs the benefit. In many cases the answer is yes, although veterinary experts understand that every pet and every situation is different.

The best advice is to educate yourself, talk with your veterinarian, and consider writer Ruth Benedict’s words: It isn’t that there is no answer, but that there are so many answers.

Joan Merriam lives in Northern California with her golden retriever Joey and Maine coon cat Indy. She emphasizes that she’s not a veterinarian or animal behaviorist — just an animal lover who’s been writing about pets since 2012. You can reach her at joan@joanmerriam.com.

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