Vaccinations help prevent many illnesses that can affect pets. There are different vaccines for different diseases, as well as different types and combinations of vaccines. Vaccination have risks and benefits that must be weighed for every pet, depending on factors like age, medical history, environment, travel habits and lifestyle.
Most vets recommend administering core vaccines to healthy pets, however, not every pet needs to be vaccinated against every disease. Talk with your veterinarian about a vaccination protocol that’s right for your pet, and in compliance with your state and local laws. Each state has its own laws governing the administration of the rabies vaccine. Some require yearly rabies vaccination, while other areas call for rabies vaccines to be administered every three years. In almost all states, proof of rabies vaccination is mandatory.
Understanding How Vaccines Work
Vaccines help prepare the immune system to fight disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which are similar in structure to the disease-causing organism but don’t actually cause the disease. The vaccine enters the body to mildly stimulate the immune system to fight the ‘disease’. If a pet is exposed to the real disease, the immune system is prepared to destroy the disease-causing organism entirely or reduce the severity and duration of the illness.
Vaccinations for Puppies
Puppies receive antibodies while nursing, if their mother has a healthy immune system. Puppies should receive a series of vaccinations starting at six to eight weeks of age. Your veterinarian should administer a minimum of three vaccinations at three- to four-week intervals. The final dose should be administered at 16 weeks of age.
Core Vaccinations for Dogs
Some adult dogs may receive certain vaccines annually, while other vaccines might be given every three years or so. Your veterinarian will provide guidance.
Vaccines for canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk and lifestyle. Non-core vaccines include Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira bacteria.
Vaccinations For Kittens
Kittens receive antibodies while nursing, if their mother has a healthy immune system. Once the kitten is around six to eight weeks of age, your veterinarian should administer a series of vaccines at three- or four-week intervals until the kitten reaches 16 weeks of age.
Core Vaccinations for Cats
Vaccines for panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus type I (rhinotracheitis) and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the cat’s lifestyle. These include vaccines to protect against feline leukemia virus, Bordetella, Chlamydophila felis and feline immunodeficiency virus. Adult cats might be revaccinated annually or every three years.
Your veterinarian can help determine what vaccines are best for your pet. Don’t forget, AZPetVet offers a FREE Vaccines for Life program that can help keep your pet healthy and protected for life, and save you some $$ along the way. (Use the savings for healthy treats and toys – they deserve it!)