Ask the Vet
by Dr. Celeste Nafziger
vaccines does my puppy need, and how many vaccines should be given in the puppy
All puppies should begin receiving the combination vaccine for distemper, parvo virus, parainfluenza and hepatitis (commonly called the 4 in 1 vaccine) when they are 6 to 8 weeks old. This vaccine needs to be boostered every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is at least 16 weeks old. It is an old wives’ tale that puppies need to get “3 boosters.” The number of vaccines is not what matters, it is that the vaccine series is started when the puppy is weaned from its mother, that the vaccine is boostered every 3-4 weeks, and that the last vaccine is given when the puppy is at least 16 weeks old. Most puppies following this schedule will receive 4-5 vaccines in the series, depending on timing. Another thing to keep in mind is that until a puppy has received all of the vaccines in the series, they are not fully protected from any of the diseases the vaccine is trying to prevent. This means that puppies that are in the middle of their vaccine series shouldn’t go out in public (no walks around the block, no dog parks, no puppy classes, etc). Once the vaccine series is complete, then the puppy can start going to public places. Once the 4 in 1 vaccine has been fully boostered, the vaccine needs to be repeated yearly for the rest of the dog’s life.
All puppies should also be vaccinated against Rabies. This is required by law in the state of Arizona. Puppies legally should be vaccinated for rabies when they turn 12 weeks old. It then needs to be boostered 1 year after that, then every 3 years.
There is a vaccine available for kennel
cough (Bordetella). Not all puppies require this vaccine. It is recommended for
any puppy or dog who will be exposed to other dogs (going to dog parks, puppy
training classes, grooming, boarding facilties, etc.) The first time a puppy or
adult dog gets this vaccine, it needs 2 boosters 3-4 weeks apart. The vaccine is
then done yearly after that.
vaccines does my kitten need?
Kittens should begin receiving their combination vaccine when they are 6-8 weeks old just like with puppies. This vaccine is called the “fvrcp” vaccine, or is commonly called the “3 in 1” vaccine. The letters stand for feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia. As with the puppy vaccine series, kittens should receive boosters of this vaccine every 3-4 weeks until they are at least 16 weeks old. Once the series is complete, this vaccine needs to be repeated yearly for the rest of the cat’s life. All kittens and cats need this vaccine, even if they are completely indoor cats.
It is not required by law in the state of Arizona for cats to be vaccinated against Rabies, but it is highly recommended. Any cat that will be allowed outdoors should definitely be vaccinated against Rabies. It is a good idea to vaccinate strictly indoor cats against Rabies as well. This way they are protected from the disease should they escape from the house. Kittens can be vaccinated against Rabies when they are 12 weeks old, then the vaccine is boostered in 1 year, then every 3 years after that.
There is a vaccine to prevent feline leukemia virus (FeLV vaccine). It is recommended that all kittens be tested for the disease as soon as possible. There is a simple blood test that can be done to check for the disease. It is also recommended that all kittens who test negative be vaccinated for this disease, since kittens have weakened immune systems and are the most prone age group for this disease. The vaccine requires 2 boosters that are done 3-4 weeks apart. After this, the vaccine is only recommended for cats that are at risk of contracting this disease. Feline leukemia is spread thru cat to cat contact via bite wounds, sharing food and water bowls, sharing litter boxes, mutual grooming, etc. At risk cats would be outdoor cats, indoor/outdoor cats, or cats who live with FeLV-infected cats or who live with cats of unknown infection status. At risk cats should be vaccinated for FeLV yearly. Strictly indoor cats with no exposure to potentially infected cats do not need this vaccine.
are the side effects of vaccines in my dog or cat?
Dogs and cats can exhibit the following mild reactions after vaccines. These may occur within a few hours to a few days after the vaccine, and are considered normal reactions to vaccines.
Mild pain at the injection site
Decreased appetite and activity level
Sneezing for 3-5 days after an
intranasal vaccine is given
More serious reactions to vaccines can occur, but are rare. These can occur as quickly as a few minutes to a few hours after a vaccine. These can be life threatening, so veterinary care should be sought immediately. These include the following:
Trouble breathing/swelling of the throat
Severe vomiting or diarrhea