Vaccinations and Young Pets
Puppies and Kittens receive their first set of vaccinations at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age. The reason they receive vaccinations at this time is because the mother passes maternal antibodies to her offspring through her colostrum, or milk, while they nurse. These antibodies protect the babies until they are old enough to be fully weaned from their mothers.
On occasion puppies and kittens receive vaccinations early. These vaccinations are only given to younger animals when they are at a much higher risk of infection such as in a shelter or rescue, if they did not nurse from their mother, or if they are from a breeder. Vaccinations given early are given in addition to the regular vaccination protocol and should not replace the vaccines that they are due for at 2, 3, and 4 months of age.
While a dog is more likely to become infected in a kennel-like environment (more animals sharing a small, enclosed space), the Bordetella vaccine is designed to increase resistance to upper respiratory infections and is not isolated to kennels. Bordetella is a highly contagious infection that is spread through aerosols and does not require direct contact between animals for it to spread. Due to this, many puppy classes, doggy day cares, boarding facilities, and groomers require the vaccination prior to seeing your dog.
The feline leukemia vaccine, however, is generally give only to cats that will be going outside or coming into contact with cats who may go outside. This vaccine is only administered to cats up to the age of 5 years old - at this time they have a strong enough immunity as well as a mature immune system to withstand the virus on their own.
Vaccinations and Adult Pets
Vaccinations and Senior Pets
Once our 'naive' pets have had their full set of vaccinations, they are considered immunized for 1 year following the 3rd vaccination. At Southfort Veterinary Clinic we use a 3-year rabies vaccine that is boosted one year after the initial vaccination and then every 3 years following that.
Any adult pet that has not had vaccinations before should still receive a second set of vaccinations for the DA2PP, RCCP, Leukemia, and Bordetella one month after the very first vaccination. At this point they may then be re-vaccinated 1 year later and continue on as normal.
Once your pet is old enough to be classed as a 'senior' their vaccine schedule may change or stay the same for a few years. As our pets get older their needs may change and it becomes a larger question of overall health and the ability of the body to handle immune triggers such as vaccines versus their level of risk. This can only be determined on an individual basis and should be discussed thoroughly with your veterinarian before deciding to forgo vaccination. While vaccination itself is quite safe, other pre-existing medical conditions may affect the ability of the body to react effectively to the vaccine.
While vaccine reactions are quite rare it is always a possibility. The most common adverse reaction to vaccinations is an allergic reaction. Whereas injectable antihistamines can be administered prior to the injection of the vaccines, Southfort Veterinary Clinic is happy to say that we also offer vaccine titre testing to ensure that these pets and all of our other patients have safe alternatives to annual vaccination should they like.
As titre testing becomes more popular, more tests become available to us.