Our main focus at Pomona Animal Hospital is to educate you about protecting your pet against preventable diseases and ailments. The first step is by making sure your pet is current on vaccines. This begins with a series of at least 2 vaccines given about 3 weeks apart. For pets under 12 weeks, this continues until your pet is 15 weeks old. For puppies this includes a DHPPC combo vaccine (to protect against distemper and parvo) and bordatella vaccine to protect against kennel cough. Kittens will get a FVRCP combo vaccine to protect against panleukopenia, and FeLV to protect them from feline leukemia. Once your pet is current, the combo, bordatella, and FeLV vaccines are boostered annually. Last, but not least, your pet will get a rabies vaccine at 16 weeks of age or older. The 2nd rabies vaccine is given in 1 year and then every 3 years.
Last reviewed May 2005
What are vaccines?
Vaccines are health products that trigger
protective immune responses in pets and prepare them to fight
future infections from disease-causing agents. Vaccines can lessen
the severity of future diseases and certain vaccines can prevent
infection altogether. Today, a variety of vaccines are available
for use by veterinarians.
Is it important to vaccinate?
Yes! Pets should be vaccinated to protect
them from many highly contagious and deadly diseases. Experts agree
that widespread use of vaccines within the last century has
prevented death and disease in millions of animals. Even though
some formerly common diseases have now become uncommon, vaccination
is still highly recommended because these serious disease agents
to be present in the environment.
Which vaccines should pets receive?
When designing a vaccination program,
veterinarians consider the pet's lifestyle, related disease risks,
and the characteristics of available vaccines. "Core vaccines"
(e.g., rabies, feline panleukopenia, feline viral rhinotracheitis,
feline calicivirus infection, canine distemper, canine parvovirus
infection, and canine hepatitis) are recommended for most pets.
Additional "non-core vaccines" (e.g., feline leukemia, canine
kennel cough and other vaccines) may be appropriate based on the
pet's particular needs.
How often should pets be revaccinated?
Veterinarians have traditionally
vaccinated annually; however, they are now learning that some
immunity that lasts less than one year, whereas others may induce
immunity that lasts well beyond one year. The AVMA recommends that
veterinarians customize vaccination programs to the needs of their
patients. More than one vaccination program may be effective.
How does my pet's lifestyle affect its vaccination program?
Some pets are homebodies and have modest
opportunity for exposure to infectious disease, whereas others have
a great deal of exposure to other pets and/or wildlife and
infectious disease by virtue of their activities. Still other pets
live in geographic areas that place them at greater risk for
contracting some infectious diseases. Differences in lifestyle
illustrate the importance of customizing a vaccination program to
Are there risks associated with vaccination?
Vaccines have protected millions of
animals from illness and death caused by infectious diseases. All
medical procedures, however, carry with them some risk.
Fortunately, in the case of vaccination, serious adverse responses
are very infrequent. Veterinarians minimize risk by carefully
selecting vaccines on the basis of a pet's individual needs and by
choosing appropriate injection sites. In an effort to find ways to
prevent even these limited numbers of adverse responses from
occurring, the AVMA is working with government and industry to
redefine how information regarding adverse responses is gathered,
analyzed, and disseminated.
Is serologic testing useful to evaluate immunity to some diseases?
Theoretically, tests that measure antibody response (i.e., serologic titers) may help veterinarians determine the need for revaccination in some cases. Unfortunately, veterinarians cannot be certain that a specific concentration of antibody is always protective or that a lower concentration leaves an animal unprotected.
This information has been prepared as a
service by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
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