One of the most critical actions a pet owner can take to keep their pet safe is making sure their pet stays vaccinated. Similar to human vaccinations, there are many different types of pet vaccinations and combinations of vaccines that protect against many different types of diseases.
Deciding what kind of vaccines your pet needs will depend on your pet’s lifestyle, health, and other factors. While some vaccines are elective, there are some crucial vaccines that all cats and dogs need to protect against the most common, yet lethal, diseases - these are known as core vaccines.
Most kittens and puppies will need to begin their first series of vaccines around 6-8 weeks of age. Vaccinations for puppies and kittens require a different schedule than annual vaccinations that are given to adult dogs and cats. Today, we will explain vaccination schedules for pets, along with how puppy and kitten vaccination works versus annual vaccinations for adult dogs and cats.
How Do Pet Vaccinations Work?
Vaccines work to fight off disease-causing organism by improving the body’s immune system. Vaccines contain properties known as “antigens”, which look similar to the disease-causing organism. When antigens are administered into the body, they trigger an immune response without causing the disease. This way, when your pet is exposed to the real disease, his immune system is strong enough to recognize and fight the disease.
Why Puppies and Kittens Need Repeated Vaccinations
Many pet owners do not understand why puppies and kitten need recurring vaccines. In order to fully protect puppies and kittens from certain diseases, such as canine distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus and feline viral rhinotracheitis, panleukopenia, and calicivirus, they will need to receive repeated vaccinations.
Contrary to popular belief, a vaccine cycle for puppies and kittens (or the same vaccine given multiple times) is not mean to “boost” immunity after each shot. Instead, one or two vaccines administered every 3-4 weeks is necessary to create complete immunity of a disease. This is why puppies and kittens require so many shots during their first year of life.
If a puppy and kitten are born from mothers with healthy immune systems, they will receive antibodies from their mother’s milk when nursing. These antibodies will stay in your pet’s system until about 6-8 weeks of age, at which time we will recommend administering their initial vaccinations.
Yearly Vaccinations for Dogs and Cats
During pet wellness exams, we can help you determine the best vaccination schedule for your dog or cat. Some adult dogs and cats might need certain yearly vaccines, while other vaccines should only be administered every 3 years or longer. All dogs, no matter their lifestyle, should receive annual Rabies vaccinations, as well as an annual “distemper” shots (also referred to as DHPP boosters), which protect against distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. Cats also have 2 crucial annual vaccines, Rabies vaccinations and a distemper shot, which protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia.
Are Pet Vaccinations Required by Law?
Every individual state, county, and city has different laws governing pet vaccinations. One of the most important vaccines is the Rabies vaccination, since it can also be a fatal disease if transmitted to humans. Some areas require a Rabies shot every year, while others require a Rabies vaccine every 3 years. Here in Birmingham, AL, the law requires a preliminary first year Rabies vaccine for puppies and kittens, followed by a Rabies booster every 3 years. Pet owners should keep proof of their pet’s Rabies vaccinations in a secure place.
Do Pet Vaccines Carry Any Risks?
Pet vaccines sometimes stimulate mild reactions, like soreness around the injection site or slight fever. The risks associated with pet vaccines are rare and minor compared to the risks of diseases. Rabies vaccinations are responsible for saving the lives of many dogs, cats, and even humans.
Vaccines play an important role in keeping your pet healthy and safe from infectious diseases. At Valleydale Animal Clinic, we offer affordable vaccinations for your new kitten or puppy. We can also help you determine an appropriate vaccination plan for your dog or cat, customized for your pet’s individual health and lifestyle. Call our office today to learn more.