At Hampden Veterinary Clinic we believe in practicing preventative medicine to help protect
your pet and your family from diseases. One of our core beliefs includes giving vaccinations to
help protect your pet from potentially life threatening diseases. Some vaccines are legally
required by the state of Maine (rabies) while others have been chosen due to our geographic
location or life style of your pet ( lyme, leptospirosis, boredetella) or due to the devastating
effects of the disease ( parvo, distemper, parainfluenza, Adenovirus). We have tailored our
vaccine protocol with both your four legged and two legged family member’s health in mind.
Core Canine Vaccines:
All dogs should receive the following core vaccinations.
This vaccine should be given when your pet is 16 weeks of age, at one years of age, and then
every 3 years. Rabies booster vaccine should be given to all animals with a bite wound of
unknown origin or if contact with a rabid animal is suspected. Rabies is a fatal disease that can
be passed from infected animals through a bite wound. This disease can be contagious to you and
your family. This vaccine is legally required by the state of Maine and is strongly recommended
except in very rare diseases where an exemption can be applied for.
Distemper/Parvo/Parainfluenza/Adenovirus (combination vaccine, DA2PP)
This vaccine is often referred to as the “distemper shot” but is a combination of 4 different
viruses that can cause potentially fatal diseases. This vaccine is typically given at 8, 12 and 16
weeks of age. This vaccine is then repeated at 1 years of age and can be repeated anywhere from
every 1 to 5 years.
Canine Distemper Virus:
Distemper is rarely seen in our pet population thanks to effective, routine, preventative
vaccination. Distemper virus affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurologic systems.
Prior to the availability of vaccinations, Distemper was one of the leading causes of death in
young dogs. Distemper can infect other animals such as wolves, ferrets, foxes, and weasels. This
disease is NOT contagious to people.
Parvo virus is another potentially lethal disease that is still very common in inner cities and
shelter dogs. It is less common in the Hampden area but can still affect unvaccinated dogs. Parvo
virus kills cells that rapidly divide such as your white blood cells in the immune system and your
gastrointestinal cells. Dogs with Parvo virus will have bloody diarrhea with sloughing of their
intestinal tract as well as a very low white blood cell count and an inability to fight off other
infections. Most puppies can do well with supportive care and survive but the cost and critical
nature of the patients often make this disease lethal. This virus can live in the environment for a
very long time and can be easily picked up at the dog park or on a hike.
Canine parainfluenza virus is a highly contagious respiratory virus and is one of the most
common pathogens of infectious tracheobronchitis. This is a different virus than canine
influenza. This virus is transmitted through the respiratory tract (coughing and sneezing) and can
spread rapidly in kennels or shelters. The most common clinical signs include coughing, fever,
nasal discharge, and lethargy/loss of appetite. Dogs that go to doggie daycare, dog parks,
grooming, dog shows, or are boarded are at higher risk of exposure to this disease. Shelter dogs
also have a higher risk than household pets.
Canine Adenovirus causes infectious canine hepatitis (liver disease). Clinical signs can range
from a slight fever, decreased white blood cell count and compromised immune system,
excessive bleeding, seizures, and death. This virus can be killed by dilute bleach but can live in
the environment for months and can be shed by an infected dog in their urine for up to 6 months.
Long term side effects include cloudy eyes and chronic kidney disease.
Leptospirosis is a worldwide disease that can infect both people and animals. The spirochete
bacteria can be found in pools of water (puddles in cities to ponds to water accumulation under
your flower pot) and is carried in the urine of animals such as rodents, raccoons, and opossums.
Animals infected with this disease have the potential to shed this bacteria for several months or
years! People are susceptible to all the different types of leptospirosis carried by domestic ( dog)
and wild animals. Clinical signs range from fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, to liver and
kidney failure and death. Puppies, small children, the elderly, and immunocompromised pets and
people are at a higher risk for this disease. Pets who live near water and or have a high
population of wildlife are also at higher risk of contracting this disease.
Bordetella Bronchiseptica may act as the primary trigger or pathogen for infectious
tracheobronctisis ( kennel cough ) in dogs less than 6 months of age or dogs who have a higher
risk of exposure to different pathogens at grooming, daycare, or boarding. Dogs with kennel
cough typically have a harsh, dry cough that may be followed by retching or gagging. Light
pressure on their trachea (wind pipe) will induce a cough. Some dogs will recover from this
infection with no treatment while others can develop a secondary infection and pneumonia.
Puppies and older dogs are especially susceptible to this disease. This vaccine can be given either
in the nose, in the mouth, or as an injection. At HVC we currently give the vaccine by mouth.
Dogs who board, go to doggie daycare, grooming, shows, or dog parks should be vaccinated
every 6 to 12 months.
Lyme disease (Borreliosis):
Lyme disease is a tickborne disease that can infect domestic animals and people. It was
originally seen in Lyme Connecticut in 1975 but has slowly spread to the greater New England
area and to Maine. In the United States, Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete bacteria called
Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted by a tick bite. Clinical signs of the disease can range for
lethargy, anorexia, fever, joint swelling, kidney failure and death. At HVC we recommend
vaccinating your dog prior to tick exposure. The vaccine is typically given after 8 weeks of age
and a 2nd booster is required in 3 to 4 weeks. After that, annual vaccination is recommended. We
typically test all our patients for Lyme disease before the first vaccine. If your dog tests positive
the veterinarian will discuss the pros and cons of treating for the disease with antibiotics. We
recommend vaccinating your dog against Lyme disease even if they have previously had the
disease since immunity is not built like in other diseases. This vaccine can cause soreness and a
mild fever. We typically give this vaccine alone and will space it out from the other core
vaccines. We have seen an increase in number of Lyme positive dogs every year at Hampden
Veterinary Clinic. Although Lyme disease was not a common disease 5 to 10 years ago it is a
newly emerging disease and vaccination is strongly recommended due to the high tick
population in this area. It typically takes the tick 24 hours of feeding to transmit the bacteria to
the dog so brushing your dog after walks in the woods and using veterinary quality tick control
products can lower your dog’s risk of acquiring this disease as well.