Vaccinating dogs and cats is one of the best things we can do to protect them. As an animal hospital, our biggest goal is keeping your pets healthy, and vaccines are an important tool at our disposal. So, where, how, and when do pets need vaccines? What vaccines do dogs need in Joliet, IL? What vaccines do cats need?

We asked our own Dr. Adam to answer your top questions about vaccines for pets in Joliet, and we’ve got his answers below!

Where can I get my pet vaccinated in Joliet?

This one is easy! We vaccinate dogs and cats every single day at Essington Road Animal Hospital. No appointment is needed–we offer walk-in vaccines as a part of our annual checkups.

If you’ve been to our practice before, we should be good to go. If it will be your first time visiting, phone ahead with the name of your previous vet (or email us your pet’s previous records) and then come in during our doctors’ hours for a walk-in veterinary exam. Our team will check what your pet is due for and we can vaccinate right away.

What vaccines should my dog have in Illinois?

Dogs should all have “core vaccines” — the rabies vaccine and “distemper” vaccine. Some dogs should also have additional vaccinations depending on their lifestyle and risk factors.

We carry the following dog vaccines for our patients:

  • Rabies Vaccine — protects against Rabies Virus, which is spread through animal bites (including wildlife and domestic animals).
  • Distemper Vaccine — a combination vaccine that protects against several highly contagious and deadly canine viruses.
  • Bordetella Vaccine — also called “kennel cough”; protects against a highly contagious bacteria that is easily spread where dogs are in close contact either directly (e.g. dog parks) or indirectly (e.g. groomers or neighborhood walk areas).
  • Leptospirosis Vaccine — protects against a bacteria spread in mammal urine; humans are also at risk for this bacteria and can catch it from their pets; dogs are more likely to be exposed when they sniff around areas frequented by rodents, squirrels, etc.
  • Lyme Vaccine — protects against the most common tick borne disease; with lyme disease cases on the rise in Joliet, this can be a critical defense for your dog.
  • Influenza Vaccine — protects against a highly contagious and severe respiratory virus; recent outbreaks have kept this high on our list for at-risk dogs.

What vaccines should my cat have in Illinois?

Cats also have “core vaccines” — the rabies vaccine and “feline distemper” vaccine. Cats who go outside (or live with a cat who does) should also be vaccinated for leukemia.

We carry the following cat vaccines for our patients:

  • Rabies Vaccine — protects against Rabies Virus, which is spread through animal bites (including wildlife and domestic animals; even mice who sneak inside the house can carry it!). Important for all cats.
  • Feline Distemper Vaccine — protects against a group of respiratory viruses that can cause a range of to deadly symptoms; we can bring these germs into our home unknowingly, and so even indoor cats should be protected.
  • Feline Leukemia Vaccine — protects against an easily spread virus commonly found in stray cats. All cats who go outside (or live with a cat who does) should be protected.

What are the risks of vaccinating my pet?

After decades of research and refinement, vaccines are a safe way to protect your cats and dogs from dangerous infectious diseases. Most pets experience no side effects, though some will be sore at the site of a vaccine for a few days (similar to ourselves after a tetanus booster) or be a little quiet for 24 hours.

In rare circumstances, pets (just like humans) can have an allergic reaction to vaccinations. This is something we take very seriously at ErAH, and are prepared to handle if it does occur. Just like when children are receiving their inoculations, it’s important to watch your pet closely for an hour or so after vaccines are given.

Cats are also at risk for a unique reaction (they just had to be special!) that can be delayed years after receiving vaccines. It’s extremely rare, but they can develop masses where a vaccine was given (or anywhere they’ve had a previous inflammatory response for any reason–we told you they are special!). For this reason, we follow strict guidelines on how and where on their bodies we vaccinate cats, as well as purchasing special vaccines developed to minimize this risk. We’re happy to discuss your cat’s risk factors and how best to prevent this possibility at any time!

How much do vaccines cost in Joliet?

This is where things get tricky — vaccines themselves range in price just like medications, and each pet needs a different combination of vaccines to stay healthy. We truly approach each dog and cat as an individual, and don’t apply a “one size fits all” vaccination plan.

The most affordable way to vaccinate your pet is to keep her up to date. When pets receive vaccine boosters on time, they are less likely to need additional doses to be fully protected, and some vaccines will last for three years after the initial boosters.

Because each dog and cat is an individual, and each family has different needs, we like to discuss what is best for you and provide individual treatment plans accordingly. During your exam, we’ll help you prioritize what treatments are most important and make a financial plan to get there.

When does my dog or cat need to be vaccinated?

Kittens need vaccines starting around 6-8 weeks of age and should receive vaccines every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old. Then they’ll need boosters at 1 year old, then every 1 to 3 years, depending on individual needs. During your cat’s annual checkup, we’ll discuss what options are available and booster vaccines when necessary.

Puppies follow a similar vaccine schedule, starting around 8 weeks old and continuing every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old. Dogs also need boosters at 1 year old and then every 1 to 3 years. As with cats, we assess each dog during his annual exam and discuss what vaccine boosters are appropriate with you.

For some pets, lifestyle changes or wounds will necessitate vaccines outside of the annual exam appointment. For example, if you are going to bring a new cat into the house, it may be a good idea to vaccinate your existing cat for leukemia. If your dog is going to begin going to the groomer or boarding for the first time, a Bordetella vaccine may be necessary. Neve hesitate to call or come for a visit if you want to discuss upcoming changes and how best to keep your dog or cat safe!

Every pet, and every family, needs a different combination of vaccines. Come in for a visit and we can discuss which may (or may not!) be appropriate for your dog or cat!

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