Veterinarian Answers Top Pet Vaccine Questions
Is your pet up to date on life-saving vaccinations? Dogs and cats need regular booster shots to stay up to date on their immunity protection. Additionally, most pets need more than just rabies, parvovirus and distemper shots; do you know which vaccinations are most critical for your pet’s health? Below, our veterinary team answers five of the most questions that pet owners ask most frequently about pet vaccinations.
#1: How do pet vaccinations work?
Vaccines prepare your pet’s body to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which stimulate your pet’s immune system and teach the immune system to be prepared for the possibility of future disease. Should your pet be exposed to the real disease later in the future, your pet’s immune system will recognize that disease-causing organisms are invading and mount a swift defense either fighting off the virus entirely or considerably reducing the virus’s severity.
#2: What is the difference between core and non-core vaccines?
Core pet vaccinations are vaccines that the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends for all dogs and cats. For dogs, the core vaccine series includes rabies, canine distemper, parvovirus, and canine hepatitis. For cats, the core vaccine series includes rabies, feline distemper (panleukopenia), feline calici virus, feline herpes virus type I (rhinotracheitis). Non-core vaccines for dogs and cats depend on a pet’s lifestyle and age. For example, if your dog is frequently boarded or attends doggy daycare, your dog should receive the bordetella vaccine to protect against kennel cough.
#3: What vaccines does my puppy or kitten need?
All puppies and kittens should receive the puppy/kitten shot series starting at 8 to 10 weeks of age. This series is comprised of core vaccine shots and subsequent booster shots every three to four weeks until your pet’s immune system is fully matured, usually by 18 to 20 weeks of age. Your pet may also need additional non-core vaccines, depending on his or her lifestyle. Talk to our veterinarian about which vaccines are right for your puppy or kitten’s needs.
#4: When does my pet need booster shots?
Generally speaking, your pet will need a booster shot approximately one year after the completion of his or her puppy/kitten shot series, and then every three years after this point. However, some shots like bordetella may need to be given annually. Talk to our veterinarian to learn more about your pet’s specific vaccination needs.
#5: Are pet vaccinations safe?
Yes, vaccines are safe for pets of all ages, including young puppies and kittens. In extremely rare cases, your pet may experience an allergic reaction to a vaccine that requires medical attention. However, if your pet has received vaccinations in the past without any problem, it is unlikely your pet will have an unexpected allergic reaction in the future. Without vaccination protection, your pet is at risk for contracting serious, deadly diseases like parvovirus or rabies, which can affect humans. Vaccinations are the best way to keep your pet and family safe.