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Vets Blog

Puppy and Kitten Vaccinations

January 16, 2024

So you have gotten a new puppy or kitten - a new family member. How exciting!

To help you with your new journey, we have created a guideline to navigate their vaccines in order to know what they need and when.

Why do we vaccinate?

Vaccinations help to protect pets and populations against diseases. Vaccines help to develop your pets immune system to resist diseases.

Controlling infectious disease is a primary concern for veterinarians. Therefore vaccinations - as well as nutrition, environmental control, and stress reduction - play a vital role in reducing exposure to nasty pathogens. Vaccinations can help protect pets against deadly diseases. They help the body create antibodies to fight viruses and bacteria that pets may come in contact with.

Reasons to vaccinate your pet:
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To protect the individual animal from disease
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To protect the population from disease
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To prevent disease in people (zoonoses)
Vaccination series

Vaccination occurs as a series of vaccines to ensure the puppies/kittens receive high levels of immunity that are not interfered with by any maternal antibodies that may still be in their system.

Kitten series

The first vaccination is done between 6 to 8 weeks of age and is then followed by a second vaccination 4 weeks later.

Kitten boosters

The first booster should be given 12 months after the last vaccine of the kitten series. An annual booster is then required in subsequent years. We can help select the best vaccination program that is suited to your pets health and lifestyle.

Vaccination Types
Panleukopenia
A highly contagious viral infection that predominantly affects kittens
Calicivirus
A common respiratory virus that causes ulceration of the tongue and mouth
Herpesvirus
A highly contagious respiratory virus that causes conjunctivitis and upper respiratory signs such as watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing

All cats receive the 'core' vaccinations of Panleukopenia, Calicivirus, and Herpesvirus in the form of the F3 vaccination (Tricat™).

Kitten Vaccinations
Puppy series

The initial vaccination series usually occurs between 6 - 8 weeks of age and repeated every 3-4 weeks with the last one around 16 weeks of age or older.

Puppy boosters

The first booster is required 12 months after the last vaccine in the puppy series. Your adult dog then requires an annual booster as detailed in the schedule below.

Common diseases that can be prevented by vaccination:
Parvovirus
Deadly virus that causes bloody diarrhoea and occasionally heart disease in puppies
Distemper
Deadly virus that causes a variety of signs including coughing, diarrhoea, seizures and blindness
Hepatitis
Deadly virus that causes permanent damage to the liver
Kennel cough (Bordetella, parainfluenza)
Highly contagious pathogens that cause respiratory disease
Leptospirosis
Infectious bacterial disease 
Canine influenza and parainfluenza
Contagious respiratory disease

All dogs receive the 'core' vaccinations of Parvovirus, Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, leptospirosis and kennel cough.

Puppy Vaccinations
Vaccination reactions

Despite the safety record of animal vaccines, reactions can occur. They can be local or generalized, mild or severe. It is important to be aware of some potential reactions so that you can identify and react appropriately if it is to happen to your pet.

Non-specific reactions:
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Lethargy
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Decreased appetite
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Fever
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Pain
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Inflammation at the injection site
Vaccination failure

On rare occasions, pets can become ill even if they have been vaccinated. Such failure can occur when:

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Maternally derived antibodies neutralized the vaccination
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Contact with large amounts of the virus before the vaccination has kicked in
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Inadequate production of immune response necessary for the protection
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Infection with a different strain of virus to which it has been vaccinated
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Incomplete vaccination series where immunity wanes
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The compromised immune system where the pet cannot fight the infectious agent
Author: Dora Khalili