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.

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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,  type 1 (CAV-1, 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 infected urine and feces; canine hepatitis can lead to severe liver damage, and death.
Adenovirus, type 2 (CAV-2, kennel cough) 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.
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 (not the same as canine influenza) 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 as early as 8 weeks, with a second dose 2-4 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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Vaccination Schedule for Cats: Core and Non-core Vaccines

Cat Vaccine
Initial Kitten Vaccination (at or under 16 weeks)
Initial Adult Cat Vaccination (over 16 weeks)
Booster Recommendation
Comments
Rabies
Single dose as early as 8 weeks of age, depending on the product. Revaccinate 1 year later

2 doses, 12 months apart

Required annually or every 3 years, depending on vaccine used. State regulations may determine the frequency and type of booster required.

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

Feline Distemper (Panleukopenia)

As early as 6 weeks, then every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age

2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart

1 dose is given a year after the last dose of the initial series, then every 3 years.

Core cat vaccine. Feline distemper is a severe contagious disease that most commonly strikes kittens and can cause death.

Feline Herpesvirus
As early as 6 weeks, then every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age

2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart

1 dose is given a year after the last dose of the initial series, then every 3 years.

Core cat vaccine. Feline herpesvirus causes feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), a very contagious upper respiratory condition.

Calicivirus
As early as 6 weeks, then every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age
2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart
1 dose is given a year after the last dose of the initial series, then every 3 years.
Core cat vaccine. A very contagious upper respiratory condition that can cause joint pain, oral ulcerations, fever, and anorexia.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
As early as 8 weeks, then 3-4 weeks later
2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart
Every 2 years for cats at low risk; every year for those at higher risk
Non-core cat vaccine.
Should test FeLV negative first. Transmitted via cat-to-cat contact. Can cause cancer, immunosuppressant
Bordetella
As early as 4 weeks
2 doses,1 year apart
Annually
Non-core cat vaccine.
A contagious upper respiratory condition.
WebMD Veterinary Reference Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on May 06, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

American Animal Hospital Association: "Canine Vaccine Guidelines Revised."

Humane Society of Southern Arizona: "Animal Services: Vaccinations."

Veterinary Partner: "Canine Influenza (H3N8)," "Kennel Cough," "Leptospirosis."

Colorado Veterinary Medical Association: "Dog And Cat Vaccine Antigen Selection Guidelines."

American Association of Feline Practitioners: "Vaccine Summary."

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: "Feline Vaccines: Benefits and Risks."

Merck.com. "Canine Adenovirus Type 2." "Nobivac® Canine 1-DAPPv+L4." "Nobivac® Feline-Bb."

Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. "2013 AAFP Feline Vaccination Advisory Panel Report," 2013, Vol. 15, pp. 785-808.

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