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Sitter Homes & Pet Vaccines (A Must-Read for Pet Owners)

Updated: Oct 13, 2023

You have found a dedicated pet sitter like Cal's Alaskan Pet Resort. You are about to hand over your pet, but the facility requires proof of vaccinations. Now, if you are scratching your head wondering why vaccinations are essential for pets staying in a sitter home or a facility and which core vaccinations need to be inoculated for your pet’s safety, you are at the right place.

Let’s understand the importance of pet vaccinations.

Why are Vaccinations Important for Pets Residing in Pet Sitter’s Home?

While your pet inhabits a pet sitter's home, it is directly or indirectly in contact with humans and other pets. These humans and pets can serve as a mode of transfer for various viruses and bacteria. Pet sitters, at times, pass on infectious pathogens without knowing it. Viruses of numerous infectious diseases can survive on your pet sitter's shoe soles, skin, and clothes.

Pets living in a pet sitter's home with other pets can also acquire diseases from those pets by different routes of transmission, such as inhalation of aerosols, direct contact, or indirect transmission via fomites. Some disease-causing agents survive in the environment, aggravating the risks for other pets. Your unvaccinated pet is not only at risk of acquiring diseases but can also serve as a hub for transmitting them.

Efforts to control and contain the spread of illnesses are crucial. This is where vaccinations come in!

Vaccines are crucial for protection against deadly bacterial and viral diseases. They are regarded as the most effective method for safeguarding your healthy pets against infectious diseases. Without vaccination, your pet is highly susceptible to transmissible diseases and is exposed to unexpected dangers.

Diseases That Your Pet Can Catch in a Pet Sitters’ Home

Pet sitters care for many pets. They may handle a pet that is positive for some deadly virus. Many viruses can survive on human clothing, skin, and other surfaces. This can pass those viruses to your pets. Let's learn about diseases your pet can catch in a pet sitter's home.

Canine Parvovirus

This is a fact that canine parvovirus can survive on human skin for up to 12 hours. Surprisingly, this virus can stay in the environment, grass, and concrete for up to a year. Your dog is at a significant risk of getting this virus if you use the pet sitter’s service.

Pet sitters can transmit this disease if they have handled a dog positive for canine parvovirus. You should always get your dog vaccinated against this deadly virus if your pet frequently visits the pet sitter’s home.

Canine Influenza

You may call it a dog flu. It is a respiratory disease common in dogs and is contagious. The causative agent is the type A influenza virus, having two types, H3N2 and H3N8. It is quite different from the influenza A virus that is common in people and is known as H1N1.

Canine influenza symptoms include:

· Fever

· Cough and a runny nose

· Reduced appetite

· Lethargy

· Eye discharge

However, some dogs don't show any symptoms. The severity varies in different canines, ranging from no signs to pneumonia and even death.

This virus spreads among dogs through the respiratory droplets produced through sneezing and coughing of infected dogs. It also spreads when a healthy dog comes in contact with a contaminated surface. Dogs exhibiting the signs should not be exposed to other cats or dogs. Clothing, surfaces, and equipment should be disinfected and sterilized after contact with dogs having symptoms of respiratory disease.

Canine influenza virus can survive in the environment for 1-2 days, but common disinfectants can readily kill it. So, your dog can be at risk if he frequently visits a pet sitter's home. Vaccines are available for protection against canine flu.

Kennel Cough

It is a contagious respiratory illness in dogs. If your dog suffers from kennel cough, you may notice the following signs:

· Sneezing and a strong cough

· Low fever

· Lethargy

· Running nose

· Loss of appetite

Dogs acquire this disease from dog training groups, daycare facilities, and boarding kennels. It spreads through contact with contaminated surfaces, direct contact, or airborne droplets. It is treatable but most severe in immunocompromised dogs or puppies under six months.

Kennel cough is also known as canine infectious respiratory disease complex. Many viruses cause it, and some can survive in the environment. Also, they can stay on people's hands, toys, bedding, and water bowls. So, your dog should be inoculated with the Bordetella vaccine as a preventive measure.

Canine Hepatitis Virus

The virus causing canine hepatitis is known as canine adenovirus 1. This virus can survive on surfaces for weeks and months. It is resistant to acids and formalin. However, it can be killed by a 1-3% solution of household bleach. It’s always a good idea to get your dog vaccinated against this virus to prevent your dog from hepatitis if he frequently visits the pet sitters’ home.

Feline Panleukopenia

It is an infectious disease of cats, especially kittens. It is also known as feline Parvo. It is caused by feline parvovirus that can be transported via fomites (shoes, clothing). If your kitten frequently visits the pet sitter's home, vaccinate her against this virus.

Feline Herpes Virus

This virus can survive on food bowls, toys, bedding, and litter boxes for 18 hours. If your cat uses shared food or water bowls at the pet sitters' home, you should vaccinate your cat against this disease.

Diseases That Can Transfer from Pets to Pets

Infected pets carry pathogens. They can effectively transmit them to other pets through different modes of transmission. At times, the symptoms of infectious diseases aren’t evident immediately. They take time to show up. As a result, your pet will be severely affected by the time you get to know about the disease. So, it’s always advisable to get your pet vaccinated.

Vaccinations curb the spread of infections to other pets and keep your pet protected while staying in a sitter’s home. Let’s learn about the diseases that can be transferred from pets to pets.

Canine Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus can also be transmitted from dogs to dogs. It is highly contagious, affecting dogs. Puppies under four months of age and unvaccinated dogs are at the most significant risk of canine parvovirus. This virus adversely affects the gastrointestinal tract of dogs. Canine parvovirus contaminates food, water bowls, clothing, and hands of people handling infected dogs.

Signs of canine parvovirus include:

· Low body temperature

· Abdominal pain

· Lethargy

· Vomiting and severe diarrhea

· Loss of appetite

· Persistent diarrhea leads to rapid dehydration and damages the immune system and intestine

Canine parvovirus can be transferred via direct contact with infected dogs or contaminated stool. Feces of infected dogs harbor this virus, infecting other canines coming in contact with the infected environment. It is also transferred via the feet or hair of dogs and contaminated cages.

Canine Hepatitis Virus

It is a worldwide viral contagious disease associated with dogs. Canine adenovirus 1 is responsible for causing this disease. This virus can also transfer from dog to dog. This virus affects the lungs, kidneys, spleen, liver, and blood vessel linings.

Symptoms of canine hepatitis virus include:

· Mucous membrane congestion

· Slight fever

· Severe decrease of white blood cells

· Lack of blood clotting

The route of transmission includes contact with the saliva, feces, and urine of infected dogs.

Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a highly contagious viral disease of dogs. Its signs include:

· Fever

· Diarrhea and vomiting

· Cough

· Neurological signs like stumbling and paralysis in severe cases

Aerosol droplet secretions can transfer the virus from infected dogs. You should get your dog vaccinated against canine distemper if your dog comes in contact with other dogs in the pet sitter's home.


Rabies is a viral disease affecting the mammal’s central nervous system. Symptoms include:

· Excessive salivation and aggression

· Abnormal behavior

· Weakness

· Flu and discomfort

· Itching sensation

· Agitation

· Cerebral dysfunction

It is transmitted via the bite of a rabid animal. It also spreads when a pet comes in direct contact with an infected animal's nervous system tissues or saliva. It can affect cats and dogs, the greater effect being observed in cats.

Feline Panleukopenia

It is a contagious cat disease, also known as feline parvo or feline distemper. The causative agent is feline parvovirus, which kills rapidly dividing and growing cells, for instance, the cells of the intestine, bone marrow, and developing fetus.

Symptoms of feline parvo include:

· Depression

· Severe diarrhea, dehydration, and vomiting

· High fever

· Lethargy

· Loss of appetite

This virus is transmitted when susceptible cats come in contact with infected cats' stool, urine, and nasal secretions. Isolation of infected cats is essential.

Feline Herpes Virus

It is one of the most common respiratory illnesses in cats. It is common in young cats residing in crowded environments and multi-cat households.

Feline herpes virus is characterized by:

· Nasal discharge and sneezing

· Wheezing

· Conjunctivitis

· Keratitis and uveitis

It spreads through infected cats' nose, eyes, or mouth secretions. Infected cats in direct contact with healthy cats can transmit this disease.

Vaccines Required for Boarding Dogs

There is a great importance of dog vaccinations, especially for those dogs that frequently use the dog boarding service. Here are some important dog boarding vaccines.

Canine Distemper Vaccine

This vaccine aids in the prevention of multiple diseases such as canine hepatitis, canine distemper, parainfluenza, coronavirus, parvovirus, and leptospirosis. It is a core vaccine suggested for the protection of dogs. It is one of the mandatory vaccines for dogs.


It safeguards dogs against kennel cough. It is offered as a single dose. Booster shots of Bordetella are then administered every six to twelve months, varying as per the exposure and risk of your pet. Usually, the Bordetella vaccine is required along with many other dog vaccinations for boarding.

Rabies Vaccine

This vaccination is necessary by law. In dogs, it is inoculated as a single dose between 4 and 6 months of age. Afterward, booster shots are administered yearly, every three years, or every other year per state law.

Canine Influenza Vaccine

This vaccination is essential for dogs frequently visiting boarding facilities and daycare centers. Get your dog vaccinated against both virus strains, H3N2 and H3N8. However, no vaccine is available for H1N1 that your pet can catch from people.

Vaccines Required for Cats Staying in Pet Sitters’ Home

If your cat frequently visits the pet sitters' home, then as a veterinarian, I recommend the feline distemper vaccine. Feline distemper is a composite offering protection against upper respiratory diseases, including feline herpes virus, feline panleukopenia, and calico pneumonitis.

You should also go for the rabies vaccine. Rabies vaccine is administered in kittens at three to four months of age. Booster shots depend on your local veterinarian’s advice and state laws.

Vaccines for Pocket Pets

In general, birds and pocket pets don't require vaccinations. However, ferrets need distemper vaccine by the time they are young and rabies at 12 weeks.

It is vital to follow up with annual examinations of your pocket pet to diagnose any developing concern. Regular veterinary care plays a key role in ensuring the good health of your pocket pets.


Vaccinations are essential for pets staying in pet sitter's homes. They aren't only for the protection of your pet, but they safeguard the health and safety of other pets as well. Always inoculate your pet timely followed by the booster dose if required. The importance of pet vaccinations becomes more critical if your pet frequently visits a sitter's home or boarding facility.

Aurthor: Manthar Ahmad, DVM

UVAS, Lahore Pakistan

Thank you Dr. Manthar =)

Manthar Ahmad

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