A puppy gets a vaccine

When you bring home a new furry bundle of joy, you know there are a few things that you’ll need to do to get your puppy or kitten off to a great start in life. Keeping your new pet healthy and well depends on the care they receive from you and from their veterinary team. 

Making plans for puppy and kitten vaccines is a great place to begin. Come along with Arlington Animal Hospital as we explore this important topic.

Seriously, A Series?

Adult pets absolutely need to keep current with vaccinations – especially for rabies. But we do look at breed, age, and where and how pets are active to determine which vaccines your adult pet needs. 

However, for puppy and kitten vaccines, we recommend a series of vaccines spread over the first 6 to 16 weeks of life. Why is that?

Puppies and kittens get maternal antibodies from their mother’s milk. These antibodies in their blood are excellent at protecting young pets from viruses and bacteria as their immune systems mature. But they are also effective at blocking the immune system from responding to vaccination with an immune response. 

Maternal antibodies naturally decline from 6 weeks to 16 weeks of age, but we don’t know exactly how much they decline, and when it will occur. As a puppy and kitten’s natural protection wanes, vaccination protects them from any infectious diseases that they may come into contact with. 

For this reason, veterinarians administer vaccines every 3 to 4 weeks starting at 6 to 8 weeks of age, until the puppy or kitten is 16 weeks of age. As maternal antibodies fall, we don’t want our fur babies to be exposed to disease; instead, the immune system is activated.

Puppy and Kitten Vaccines

Puppies and kittens can contract different diseases, so we vaccinate them for different things. Some vaccines are considered “core”, meaning they protect against deadly, highly infectious, or zoonotic diseases. 

In puppies, core vaccines include:

Rabies – rabies is a fatal and preventable disease that can be spread to humans. The vaccine is given after 4 months of age, followed by a booster at one year; boosters every 3 years thereafter

Distemper (DHPP) – given to prevent deadly and highly infectious disease, this vaccine covers 4 different diseases: Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus. Given beginning at 8 weeks of age, 3 to 4 weeks apart until the puppy is 16 weeks old.

Leptospirosis – Leptospirosis is a disease spread through the urine of wildlife and is transmissible to humans. It can be given as early as 6 weeks and boosted 2 to 4 weeks later; boosted annually.

Other vaccines that may be recommended depending on where and how your puppy is active:

  • Lyme disease
  • Bordetella
  • Rattlesnake vaccine
  • Canine Influenza Virus (CIV)

In kittens, core vaccines are:

Rabies – Rabies can affect cats as well as dogs. Given in kittens after 3 months of age with a booster at one year, then given annually

Distemper (FVRCP) – This vaccine protects against several deadly diseases in cats; Feline Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia, and Chlamydia Psittaci.  Given as a series one every 3 to 4 weeks beginning at 6 weeks of age until the kitten is 16 weeks old; boosted annually. 

Feline leukemia – FeLV vaccine is one that we recommend for all outdoor cats and cats in multiple cat households. Kittens are tested for the disease with a blood sample and given two vaccines, 2 to 4 weeks apart, beginning at 9 weeks of age.

Many of the vaccines given will prevent infectious diseases that can be contracted from other pets and from the environment. 

For example, Parvovirus can live in the soil for up to 10 years. Please don’t take your puppy or kitten to any public places, including pet stores, the beach, or the dog park, until they are fully vaccinated. 

If you have any questions about puppy and kitten vaccines, please reach out to us at any time. Your puppy and kitten’s health is a top priority for us!