Just like people, pet vaccinations need to be regular to strengthen vulnerable immune systems and reduce the spread of harmful diseases. Pet vaccination originally came about to protect pets from diseases that were common at the time, such as canine distemper, canine parvo and feline panleukopenia. When pet vaccines were produced for these diseases, they effectively and dramatically reduced the disease so they are rarely encountered in the modern age. Pet vaccinations now help to keep these diseases off the map while also reducing the spread of common pet diseases such as Rabies. Both dog vaccinations and cat vaccinations have recommended schedules for when they should be received. Some pet vaccines need to be administered yearly or bi-yearly to effectively protect pets from disease.
In 2006, the American Animal Hospital Association’s Canine Task Force published a revised version of guidelines regarding canine vaccinations. The guidelines divide vaccines into three categories—core, non-core and not recommended.
Canine Vaccination Protocol
The recommended schedule for a puppy begins with core vaccinations for canine distemper, hepatitis, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and parvovirus at 6 -8 weeks of age. These vaccinations need to be boostered for greatest immunity from these infectious diseases at 3 - 4 week intervals until the puppy reaches 16 weeks old. At 12 weeks old, a puppy should receive a vaccine for rabies, which is mandated by Missouri State law. The following year, these vaccinations are repeated, and after that, dogs generally should receive a booster for the distemper series on a yearly basis and be vaccinated against rabies every three years.
Non-core vaccinations include Bordetella bronchiseptica (Kennel Cough), Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme) and Leptospira bacteria. These vaccinations are available for pets who are at increased risk of exposure to these diseases but are not recommended for all pets.
Feline Vaccination Protocol
Kittens, like puppies, receive proper immune system building vaccination from their mother's milk (if the mother has been vaccinated properly) during the nursing period. This period usually ends after about 6 - 8 weeks of age, at which point you should put your kitten on a regular vaccine schedule. At 6-8 weeks old, kittens should receive a vaccination commonly known as FVRCP (Feline Rhinotracheitis-Calici-Panleukopenia-Chlamydia Psittaci Vaccine). This vaccine needs to be boostered at 3 - 4 week intervals until the kitten reaches 16 weeks old. At 12 weeks old, the kitten should also be vaccinated against rabies, which is mandated by Missouri State law. If your cat goes outside, a vaccination for feline leukemia should also be administered. After this, your cat should be on a regular examination schedule every year where risk and vaccination need will be evaluated.