We keep close track of our kids' vaccinations at those yearly visits to the pediatrician. Following vaccination schedules for our pets is just as important to keep our furry friends healthy. Veterinarians have schedules similar to those we're used to for the kids - with shots at certain ages, "core" vaccines for most dogs and cats, along with additional care for issues specific to individual animals.
We know vaccines help the immune system fight infection and protect against certain diseases. As with kid vaccines, many highly contagious and potentially deadly diseases can be avoided with a proper pet vaccination plan. Widespread use of vaccines within the last century has played a significant role in enabling our pets to live longer and healthier lives.
We need to be sure to set up appointments with the vet just like we do with the pediatrician. Based on a pet's lifestyle, age and health status, our veterinarian will help us make the best decisions regarding vaccine choices and timing.
Typically, a veterinarian will recommend a core group of vaccines for just about all pets. Puppies and kittens are subject to different diseases and have different protocols. Here's what to expect at the vet visit for core immunizations:
DAPP (Distemper/Parvo/Parainfluenza and Hepatitis): 6-8 weeks, repeated every 2-4 weeks for a total of 4 doses. Revaccinate in a year, and then every 3 years.
Leptospirosis: 10-12 weeks, booster in 2-4 weeks. Revaccinate yearly.
Bordetella: 6-8 weeks, booster in 2-4 weeks. Revaccinate yearly (every 6 months in high exposure risk dogs).
Rabies: 14-16 weeks. Revaccinate in a year, and then every 3 years.
Feline Distemper (Calicivirus/Panleukopenia/Rhinothracheitis): 8 weeks, repeated every 2-4 weeks for a total of 3 doses. Revaccinate in a year, then every 3 years.
Rabies: 14-16 weeks. Revaccinate in a year, then every 3 years.
Feline Leukemia (for outdoor cats): 10-12 weeks, booster in 2-4 weeks. Revaccinate yearly.
Both dogs and cats may also need some specific vaccines based on their history or environment. The veterinarian may recommend our dogs be vaccinated against Lyme Disease, Influenza, Corona, and Porphyromonas. Our cats may need vaccines for FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) and indoor cats may benefit from protection from Feline Leukemia.
As with our kids, these recommendations may not fit all pets' needs. The types of vaccines, a pet's age, and the shots already given can affect a pet's immunity. We need to follow our veterinarians' recommendations to help ensure our special pets live long, healthy lives.
Dr. Jan Castro is a veterinarian with Banfield PetHospital located in Falls Church. You can reach him at 703-237-5610 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.