Safeguarding Pets and the People Who Love Them

Our Customized Vaccination Plans Address Your Pet’s Individual Health Risks at Every Age and Life Stage

At Small Animal Primary Care, we recommend a series of age-appropriate core vaccinations and boosters for all our canine and feline patients, with some pets’ benefiting from selected additional vaccinations based on disease risk factors and lifestyle.

Relevant risk factors include whether your pet —

  • Lives mostly indoors or outside
  • Travels to locations outside our geographic area
  • Frequents boarding kennels and/or grooming businesses
  • Visits dog parks and/or pet daycare facilities
  • Is a service dog
  • Is especially active, engaging in such pursuits as hunting, tracking, agility, obedience and conformation showing
  • Has a medical condition

Our veterinarians will customize your pet’s vaccination program, asking you about your pet’s activities and lifestyle to determine which non-core vaccines to recommend for more complete protection.

How Vaccines Work

Vaccines work by causing your pet’s immune system to produce protective antibodies to disease-causing organisms. Ideally, once vaccinated, your pet becomes immune to the often highly-contagious and sometimes deadly diseases targeted by the vaccines. 

Vaccinations prevent many common illnesses, including diseases that can be passed from animal to animal or from animal to people. Vaccinations for rabies and distemper protect your pet from contracting these deadly diseases from wildlife. In Indiana, rabies vaccinations for dogs, cats and ferrets are required by law.

The benefits of vaccinations for pets, their families and the public far outweigh the risks. Most pets tolerate vaccines well, but there are risks of adverse reactions — most often short-term and mild. We encourage you to discuss any concerns you have about vaccination risks with our veterinarians.

Vaccinations for Dogs

DHLPP – Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus

  • Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that is often fatal. This disease causes fever, respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous system symptoms. 
  • Hepatitis is a contagious viral disease affecting the primarily the liver, other internal organs and the eyes, sometimes causing “blue eye.”.
  • Leptospirosis is caused by Leptospira bacteria found in contaminated water. Bacteria can penetrate intact or cut skin and mucous membranes. It may cause kidney, urinary, liver, respiratory, heart, nervous system, reproductive, and/or eye disease. It is a zoonotic disease, meaning an infected pet may transmit the disease via urine to humans.
  • Parainfluenza is a contagious viral disease that causes respiratory signs, including coughing, sneezing and, nasal discharge.
  • Parvovirus is a highly contagious, often fatal viral disease, particularly impacting young puppies. Signs include lethargy, vomiting, dehydration and often bloody diarrhea. In rare cases, parvovirus can cause heart problems as well.


Bordetella, commonly known as kennel cough, is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes respiratory signs, such as coughing, nasal discharge and possibly fever.


Rabies is a severe, always fatal, viral infection of the brain and central nervous system. It is spread in the saliva of rabid animals such as skunks, raccoons, coyotes, foxes and bats. Animals most often contract this disease after being bitten by a rabid animal. Rabies is a zoonotic disease and can be transmitted to humans via bites from infected animals.

Vaccinations for Cats

FVRCP = Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia

  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis is a common, contagious upper respiratory disease of cats and kittens caused by a herpes virus. Signs include sneezing, fever, clear nasal discharge and red, watery eyes which can predispose cats to secondary bacterial infections that require antibiotic treatment.
  • Calicivirus is a common, contagious upper respiratory disease of cats and kittens. Signs may include sneezing, clear nasal discharge, oral ulceration, pneumonia and occasionally arthritis.
  • Panleukopenia, often called Feline Distemper is a parvoviral infection of cats. Signs include depression, vomiting and diarrhea, and severe dehydration. Often signs occur suddenly which contributes to a high death rate from this disease.


Rabies is a deadly viral infection of the brain and central nervous system. Pets are typically infected by being bitten by rabid wildlife such as skunks, raccoons, coyotes, foxes and bats. Rabies is a zoonotic disease and can be transmitted to humans bitten by rabid animals.

FeLV — Feline Leukemia Virus Vaccine

Feline Leukemia Virus causes immune system deficiency in cats. It is usually spread by direct contact with infected cats. It may also be spread from mother cat to kittens. Young outdoor and indoor/outdoor cats are at much higher risk for FeLV transmission than exclusively indoor cats.

A blood sample can be tested for FeLV. If a cat or kitten tests positive, that animal is contagious to other cats and kittens. The cat or kitten may be able to clear the virus, and the vaccine is available for all cats and kittens older than nine weeks that test negative for FeLV at least once.

FIV — Feline Immunodeficiency Virus FIV

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is a form of AIDS that affects cats. The FIV vaccine is no longer produced.

Feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV, is closely related to the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, in the way it attacks the immune system. Patients are left susceptible to infection from commonplace germs that a healthy person or cat easily resists. Like HIV, the cat virus may lie dormant in the body for years before the disease visibly manifests itself.

Despite the similarities, the feline virus is not known to infect humans, nor are cats known to be infected by the human virus.

Cats most likely to contract FIV are outdoor cats, especially males because they tend to fight more than females. The virus is transmitted in cats through blood or bites. Unlike HIV, there is little evidence FIV is spread through sexual contact.

Initial FeLV testing can be done on any young kitten. Initial FIV testing is done after 4 months of age to ensure limited reaction to any antibodies shared by the queen through the milk. Once the kitten’s household is stable and if fully indoors, an adult confirmation test will be performed to assess any early infection not detected by the kitten screening. Outdoor cats and cats exposed to kittens or other cats whose viral status is unknown, will be screened annually.