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Pet Vaccines: Schedules for Cats and Dogs

Like people, pets need vaccines. And pet vaccinations, like those for humans, may sometimes require a booster to keep them effective. The best way to stay on schedule with vaccinations for your dog or cat is to follow the recommendations of a veterinarian you trust.

Chances are your vet's suggestions will break down into two categories: core pet vaccines and non-core vaccines. Core pet vaccinations are those recommended for every pet, while non-core vaccines may be advised based on your pet's lifestyle. For example, your vet may suggest certain non-core vaccinations if your cat or dog is outdoors only or boarded often.

Many vaccines can be given to pets as young as 6 weeks old, so talk to your vet about setting up the best vaccination schedule for your cat or dog, kitten or puppy.

Vaccination Schedule for Dogs: Core and Non-core Vaccines

Dog Vaccine
Initial Puppy Vaccination (at or under 16 weeks)
Initial Adult Dog Vaccination (over 16 weeks)
Booster Recommendation
Comments
Rabies 1-year
Can be administered in one dose, as early as 3 months of age. States regulate the age at which it is first administered.

Single dose

Annual boosters are required.

Core dog vaccine. Rabies is 100% fatal to dogs, with no treatment available. Prevention is key.

Rabies 3-year

Can be administered as one dose, as early as 3 months of age. States regulate the age at which it is first administered.

Single dose

A second vaccination is recommended after 1 year, then boosters every 3 years.

Core dog vaccine.

Distemper
At least 3 doses, given between 6 and 16 weeks of age

2 doses, given 3-4 weeks apart

Puppies need a booster 1 year after completing their initial series, then all dogs need a booster every 3 years or more often.

Core dog vaccine. Caused by an airborne virus, distemper is a severe disease that, among other problems, may cause permanent brain damage. 

Parvovirus
At least 3 doses, given between 6 and 16 weeks of age
2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart
Puppies need a booster 1 year after completing the initial series, then all dogs need a booster every 3 years or more often.
Core dog vaccine. Canine "parvo" is contagious, and can cause severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Parvo is usually fatal if untreated.
Adenovirus (canine hepatitis)
At least 3 doses, between 6 and 16 weeks of age
2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart
Puppies need a booster 1 year after completing the initial series, then all dogs need a booster every 3 years or more often.
Core dog vaccine. Spread via coughs and sneezes, canine hepatitis can lead to severe liver damage, and death.
Parainfluenza
Administered at 6-8 weeks of age, then every 3-4 weeks until 12-14 weeks old
1 dose
A booster may be necessary after 1 year, depending on manufacturer recommendations; revaccination every 3 years is considered protective.
Non-core dog vaccine. Parainfluenza infection results in cough, fever. It may be associated with Bordetella infection.
Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough )
Depends on the vaccine type; 2 doses are usually needed for protection.
1 dose of the intranasal or oral product, or 2 doses of the injected product
Annual or 6-month boosters may be recommended for dogs in high-risk environments.
Non-core dog vaccine. Not usually a serious condition, although it can be dangerous in young puppies. It is usually seen after activities like boarding or showing.
Lyme disease
1 dose, administered as early as 9 weeks, with a second dose 2-4 weeks later
2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart
May be needed annually, prior to the start of tick season
Non-core dog vaccine. Generally recommended only for dogs with a high risk for exposure to Lyme disease-carrying ticks.
Leptospirosis
First dose at 12 weeks; second dose 4 weeks later
2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart
At least once yearly for dogs in high-risk areas
Non-core dog vaccine. Vaccination is generally restricted to established risk areas. Exposure to rodents and standing water can lead to a leptospirosis infection.
Canine influenza
First dose as early as 6-8 weeks; second dose 2-4 weeks later
2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart
Yearly
Non-core dog vaccine.
Similar to bordetella.

 

 

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