Pet vaccines are medications intended to reduce an animal’s risk of contracting a contagious disease. They provide protection from highly contagious diseases, including rabies, distemper, and parvo. Vaccination is required every one to three years, depending on the type of vaccination and the recommendations of your veterinarian.
Vaccines are somewhat like a training course for the immune system. The presence of the weakened virus or protein triggers an immune response from the body. This ‘teaches’ the immune system what to do in case it ever encounters the virus again.
Pet vaccinations are one of the most important things you can do for the health of your pet. Vaccinating your pet, or running a titer test to confirm protective immunity can prevent your pet from contracting a serious infectious disease, or lessen the symptoms of an infectious disease, upon exposure at dog parks, grooming salons, boarding facilities, and even in your own backyard or inside your home. An animal that seems healthy may be sick with a contagious disease that can spread to your pet. Even indoor cats can contact rabies-infected bats in small spaces in your attic. Contagious illnesses often require emergency veterinary care. Vaccinating your pet can also protect you and your family from infectious diseases, like rabies, which can spread from animals to humans.
All medications and drugs, including vaccines, pose some risks. The benefits of pet vaccinations greatly outweigh these risks. It is extremely rare for pets to experience an allergic reaction to vaccination. Some pets do experience minor side effects after vaccination, as vaccines work by stimulating an immune response.
Dogs receive their core vaccines in one shot. The vaccination, known as the DA2PP, protects your canine companion against distemper, hepatitis (Adenovirus type 2), parainfluenza, and parvovirus.
Cats also receive their core vaccines in one shot, a vaccination known as the FVRCP. It protects your feline friend from viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia, which is also known as feline distemper.
The puppy/kitten shot series includes the DA2PP for dogs and FVRCP for cats, along with a rabies vaccination. Depending on your new pet’s risk for exposure, your veterinarian may recommend non-core vaccines, such as Bordetella (kennel cough) for puppies.
Puppies should receive their first round of DA2PP vaccinations when they are seven to eight weeks of age; kittens can start their FVRCP as young as six weeks. Puppies should then receive vaccines every 4 weeks until they are 15 to 16 weeks of age. Puppies can receive Bordetella as young as 8-10 weeks. Kittens should also then receive vaccines every 4 weeks until they are 15 to 16 weeks of age.
By law, the Rabies vaccine for dogs and cats should be given at 16 weeks of age.
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