Protecting Pets from DiseaseSimply put, vaccinations are given to protect your pet against disease. During vaccination, a modified bacteria, parasite or virus is administered to your pet by injection or intra-nasally. The vaccination triggers an immune response within your pet’s body to protect against a specific disease.
Vaccinations for Young PetsVeterinarians usually recommend giving puppies and kittens a series of vaccinations starting when they are approximately six weeks old. Young animals need to be vaccinated early on since the natural immunity in their mothers’ milk gradually wears off and they become vulnerable to infectious diseases. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a series of vaccinations are usually scheduled approximately three to four weeks apart, with the final vaccination series being administered when they are 12 to 16 weeks old.
The Importance of Routine ShotsRoutine booster shots will also be necessary to keep vaccine levels high enough in your pet to protect her over time. Fortunately, pet owners appear to be keeping up with their pets’ shots; the 2007 AVMA Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook reports that 64.4% of dog owners and 63.7% of cat owners received vaccination services or products during their most recent veterinary visit. It’s important to remember that not all vaccines are 100% effective; a vaccinated pet may not develop adequate immunity and can become ill. However, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.
Core vs. Non-Core VaccinationsVaccinations for both cats and dogs can be categorized into two groups: core and non-core. Core vaccines are recommended for cats and dogs with an unknown vaccination history. Non-core vaccines are optional vaccines that should be considered depending on your animal’s risk.
Core vaccinations for puppies and dogs include:Parvovirus (CPV), Canine distemper virus (CDV), Canine adenovirus (CAV), and Rabies.
Non-core vaccines include:Canine parainfluenza virus (CPiV), Distemper-measles combination vaccine, Bordetella bronchiseptica (Kennel Cough), Leptospira spp., Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme), and Giardia.
Core vaccines for kittens and cats include:Feline herpesvirus 1 (FHV1), Feline calicivirus (FCV), Feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) and Rabies.
Non-core vaccines include vaccines for:Feline leukemia virus (FeLV), Feline immunodeficiency virus, Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), Chlamydophila felis, and Bordetella bronchiseptica.