Pet Vaccinations: The Point of Vaccines for Dogs and Cats
Last month, we talked about the importance of wellness exams and how visiting us (your pet’s veterinarian) regularly can help keep your pet healthy. This month, we wanted to let you know why getting your pet vaccinated as a puppy or kitten and keeping your pet vaccinated throughout their life is a good idea.
So Why Do Vaccines Matter, and How Do They Work?
Vaccines help keep pets protected against serious, highly contagious, and life-threatening diseases. Certain vaccines are important for all dogs or cats, and your Mt. Shasta veterinarian may recommend other vaccines based on your individual pet’s lifestyle, age, environmental risk, and overall health.
Vaccines are an essential part of wellness and preventive care for both cats and dogs.
Vaccines are designed to reduce the chance of pets getting certain diseases. As an added benefit, if a pet does get a disease that they were vaccinated against, the symptoms are often less severe and don’t tend to last as long.
Why Puppies and Kittens Need Vaccines
The antibodies that young pets receive from their mothers’ milk protects them while their immune systems are first developing. But this protection declines over the first few weeks to months of life, making puppies and kittens susceptible to diseases. This is when vaccines first become valuable.
We vaccinate puppies and kittens every 2 to 4 weeks until they’re about 16 to 20 weeks of age. These vaccinations stimulate a pet’s immune system to kick in. Finishing the full series of puppy/kitten vaccinations is crucial for providing your pet with complete protection.
Vaccines set puppies and kittens up for a healthier life down the road.
After your puppy or kitten has received enough protection from vaccinations, your veterinarian will let you know when your young pet is ready to start socializing with other dogs or cats.
Why Adult and Senior Pets Need Vaccines
Although diseases like parvovirus and distemper may be thought of as ones that only puppies and kittens get, the truth is that pets need boosters for certain vaccines at regular intervals throughout life (every 1 to 3 years) to ensure that they stay adequately protected. This is the case for several reasons:
- Not all pets who are vaccinated develop an immune response.
- A pet’s level of immunity to specific diseases decreases over time, based on how long vaccines remain protective.
- Other vaccines don’t provide pets with long-term immunity, so these vaccines need to be given more frequently.
- As pets age, their immune system tends to decline, so vaccinations can help boost an older pet’s immunity.
The essential (or “core”) vaccines provide protection against rabies, as well as other severe, potentially deadly illnesses.
Core Canine Vaccines
- Canine hepatitis (adenovirus)
- Canine parvovirus
- Canine parainfluenza
Core Feline Vaccines
- Feline viral rhinotracheitis (feline herpesvirus type 1)
- Feline calicivirus
- Panleukopenia (also called feline distemper or feline parvovirus)
- Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) for kittens
Some of these vaccines are given together, as a combination vaccine.
Other vaccines are available to help protect pets based on exposure risk. These are referred to as lifestyle vaccines.
Lifestyle vaccines we may recommend for your dog include:
- Bordetella bronchiseptica (to protect against canine infectious respiratory disease complex or, as it’s more commonly known, kennel cough)
- Canine influenza
- Lyme disease
How to Protect Your Pet
By making sure your pet is vaccinated following your veterinarian’s recommendations, you’ll be helping to keep your pet protected against highly contagious, potentially deadly diseases.
Your Mt. Shasta veterinarian will tailor a vaccination program specifically for your individual pet. Please don’t hesitate to call us at 530-926-5266 if you have any questions about your pet’s vaccines or to make sure your pet is up-to-date on their vaccinations.