Time to Update your Pet’s Vaccinations!

August is International Immunization Awareness Month for people of all ages, but don’t forget, it’s important for your pets to get their shots too! This month while you’re going in for a yearly check-up, go ahead and take your pet to the veterinarian to ensure all their vaccinations are up-to-date.

Vaccinations are essentially the same as immunizations, but our pets rely on us to remember when to have them administered. Vaccines contain antigens that are introduced to the immune system to better prepare your pet for preventing and fighting off future illness.

There a few basic vaccinations that all pets must receive the first time they go to the vet. It’s important to have a set vaccination schedule to ensure they receive the appropriate vaccines, especially if your pet is a young puppy or kitten.

There are specific core vaccinations that all dogs and cats, regardless of age, need for protection against particularly common or especially dangerous diseases. Puppies can begin vaccinations after they are weaned as early as six to eight weeks of age and kittens can also begin receiving vaccinations at six weeks.

Both dogs and cats should receive the rabies vaccine as part of their core vaccinations. Depending on your state’s laws, dogs and cats are required to have an up-to-date rabies vaccination and documented proof of said vaccination. It’s a good idea to keep your pet’s medical records on file if you ever need to prove their vaccinations are to date.

Puppies need to have core vaccinations administered to prevent rabies, canine parvovirus, distemper and canine hepatitis. Puppies receive most of their needed vaccines every two to four weeks until they age to 14 weeks or older.

For kittens, their core vaccinations should include ones that protect against rabies, feline rhinotracheitis, feline panleukopenia or distemper (FVRCP) and feline calicivirus which causes feline respiratory infections. The preventatives for these diseases can be administered through a combination vaccine and should be updated every three years. All of these diseases are common in nature and are frequently found in the general cat population. Outside cats or cats at higher risk for these diseases will benefit from more frequent vaccinations. Kittens should be vaccinated every three to four weeks until they age to 16 weeks or older.

Because some pets are at a higher risk for exposure to various diseases, discuss with your veterinarian the appropriate interval for vaccinations and booster shots to be administered. Frequency of vaccinations can be dependent on your pet’s age, lifestyle, medical history or environment.

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