Vaccinations are given to help protect your pet from a number of potentially serious and possibly fatal diseases, including rabies. Every pet should be vaccinated; even if they are kept indoors. Your veterinarian can discuss a vaccination program with you specifically tailored to your pet’s lifestyle.

How do vaccinations work?

Vaccines contain viruses or bacteria that have been modified so that they will not cause disease. When an animal is vaccinated, it stimulates two parts of the animal’s immune system – the production of antibodies and the stimulation of cell mediated immunity. Combined, these mount a response against the bacteria or virus in question. If your dog or cat is later exposed to that disease, the two parts of the immune system will react quickly to destroy the disease-causing agent.

Your pet is born with immunities from their mother’s milk; however this immunity decreases between 6 weeks and 20 weeks of age. Ideally starting at 8 weeks of age, a series of vaccines are given to your pet, and are continued every 3 to 4 weeks until the chance of contracting an infectious disease is very low. Revaccination (booster shots) are recommended one year after the final puppy/kitten vaccines are completed, and are repeated every year.

Why does my pet need regular booster vaccinations for the same disease?

The protection provided by a vaccine gradually declines over time. Your pet needs regular “booster” vaccinations to ensure ongoing immunity from disease.

Do I need to get my pet vaccinated every year?

This is a topic which is currently under investigation within veterinary medicine. Unfortunately, the duration of immunity for each vaccine is not currently known.

While pet owners can have blood tests done on their pets to assess the pet’s antibody level, this does not test the level of immunity currently provided by the pet’s cell mediated immune system. Until more is known about the duration of immunity, the frequency and type of vaccines administered will be once every year.

When considering what is best for you pet, please remember that pets age faster than people. Pets can’t talk, and because “survival of the fittest” meant that only the healthy and strong survived in the wild, animals will try to hide any evidence of illness as long as possible. This means that there may not be any outward signs that your pet is ill until the disease is quite advanced.

In addition to having regular vaccinations, it is extremely important that your pet has an annual physical examination. By performing an exam, your veterinarian can detect early signs of illness and organ dysfunction. If your pet does display any signs to be concerned about, early detection leads to early treatment, which can lead to an increased life span and an improved quality of life for your pet.

Which Vaccines are Needed?

Your veterinarian can help you make a choice on which vaccines are appropriate for your pet. Recommended vaccines will vary depending on you and your pet’s lifestyle, as well as where you live and what your pet’s home environment is like.

Diseases commonly vaccinated against:

  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Hepatitis
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvo virus
  • Leptospirosis∙
  • Corona virus
  • Bordetella

Here are some other vaccine options that are available to you:

  • canine core vaccine – combination vaccine with protection against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus, parainfluenza, and canine parvovirus – often abbreviated to DHPP
  • Bordetella risk factors: contact with other dogs on walks, at the groomer’s, at the vet clinic
  • if frequently kenneled, groomed, shown or if highly social, bordetella vaccination may be recommended on a 6-month basis
  • the protective effect of vaccinations for bacterial infections (e.g. bordetella and leptospirosis) typically do not persist for more than a year therefore yearly (and occasionally more frequent) booster vaccines is advisable
  • canine core vaccine – rabies vaccine at 12 weeks
  • non-core vaccine – Lyme Disease – due to the low incidence of Lyme disease in our area, we generally do not encourage the use of this vaccine except in special circumstances