Young animals are like kids–it’s a never-ending job to keep them safe and happy. Vaccinating your pet is a relatively inexpensive but very important way to protect his or her health. In addition to preventing many life-threatening illnesses, vaccinations can prevent diseases prevalent in wildlife and those that can be passed to humans. It’s important to administer vaccinations when pets are puppies and kittens because their young immune systems are still developing and need protection to stay healthy.
While any medical treatment involves some degree of risk, in the case of vaccinations, the benefits far outweigh any potential side effects. Adverse reactions are rare and usually mild and short-term when they do occur.
Which vaccines should your pet have? “Core” vaccines are those recommended—and possibly mandated by law—for most pets. Core vaccines include:
- Rabies (dogs and cats)
- DA2PPV – Distemper, Hepatitis, Adenovirus 2, Parvo and Parainfluenza (dogs)
- FVRCP – Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (cats)
One non-core, but highly suggested vaccination for cats is FeLV to protect against feline leukemia. For dogs, leptospirosis, bordetella, and canine influenza shots are recommended if they frequent dog parks, boarding kennels, or any place where they’re socializing with other canines.
Titer testing means that we are measuring the amount of antibodies in the blood. Antibodies are produced against the weakened form of the virus contained in the vaccine. The presence of antibodies means that the immune system will remember that virus and know how to kill it if your pet is exposed to it in the future.
If you would like to titer test your puppy or kitten, we recommend checking a titer 2-4 weeks after the last vaccine is given to make sure that your puppy or kitten has immunity to the diseases for which we gave the vaccines. If the titer shows immunity, then we check another titer once your puppy or kitten is 1 year of age. Titer testing is done every three years based on your pet’s needs. No boosters are required over that time period, except for rabies. A second rabies vaccination is given one year after the first vaccine.
If titer testing is not done, then we will booster the core vaccines one year after the puppy/kitten series is finished, and then no more often than every 3 years.
For adult dogs and cats, we can start by checking titers. If immunity is not present, then core vaccines are given.
It’s also important to note that even pets who live primarily indoors should be vaccinated, as they can still be exposed to a