How Often Should your Pet be Vaccinated?

happy pet in a veterinary clinic

There is no getting away from the fact that vaccinations have transformed our ability to deal with some of the more dangerous viruses and bacterial infections that have plagued our world – for both people and our animals. In fact, vaccines have saved countless lives over the last half century alone. Nevertheless, the frequency with which we vaccinate our pets is a regularly debated topic.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines work by exposing the body to a synthetic version of the disease it is supposed to prevent. In doing so, it prompts the immune system to create antibodies to fight it, but since there is no real threat to the health of your pet, her body continues producing the antibodies and builds up a store of them. If your pet were to come into contact with the actual, harmful disease, the antibodies will do their thing, preventing your pet from becoming unwell or minimizing the effect of the illness.

How long are vaccines effective for?

While vaccines are extremely effective, many only remain active for a period of time. After this, your pet’s body needs another dose of the vaccine to continue to build disease-fighting antibodies. It is not known exactly why some vaccines are effective for life while others require boosters to maintain the immunity of the patient. Nevertheless, if you wish your pet to remain fully protected, you must adhere to the schedule supplied by our veterinarian for those vaccinations that require multiple doses.

How often should my pet be vaccinated?

The answer to this question is not as simple as you might hope and depends on various factors including:

- Whether or not your pet had her initial vaccines on time

- The age of your pet

- The current health of your pet

- Where you live

- Your pet’s lifestyle

The exact vaccinations that your pet needs to have will also play a significant role in determining her vaccination schedule too. This is because while some vaccines may need to be topped up after a year, others may remain active for as long as three years. Since other elements also play a part in the frequency with which vaccination should be given, any good veterinarian will work with you to create a completely customized vaccination schedule based primarily on the needs of your beloved animal.

Infant animals have slightly different vaccination requirements

Since the immune systems of puppies and kittens is still developing, they are unable to receive a full adult dose of the vaccine. Nevertheless, it is still crucially important to protect them at this age as they are more vulnerable to contagious diseases. Therefore, puppies and kittens are recommended to attend appointments every few weeks, so that they can receive smaller doses of the necessary vaccine and build up their immunity.

These appointments start around 6/8 weeks of age and progress until your furbaby is around 16 weeks old. After this time, further vaccinations will take place when she is around a year old, before she moves onto an adult animal vaccination schedule.

The law surrounding pet vaccinations

In addition to the recommendations made by our veterinarian, your state will undoubtedly have laws and regulations about what vaccinations any domestic animals need. This principally applies to dogs and cats, but it is important that you check with your own animal control offices and follow the requirements made by your local authority. Most U.S. states have made it a law for dogs to be vaccinated against rabies, and you may have to provide proof of this. Failure to do so could see you being fined or even given jail time, while your animal may be quarantined or even forcibly euthanized.

If you are concerned that your pet may not have had the necessary vaccinations and could be at risk of disease, contact our offices as soon as possible where we can arrange for an appointment with our veterinary team.