Protecting Puppies & Kittens with Vaccinations PDF Print E-mail



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Protecting Puppies & Kittens with Vaccinations


Our puppies and kittens need to be vaccinated to protect them against infectious diseases

that they may be exposed to in their daily routines. Vaccination is particularly essential

in China, as the pet population is largely unvaccinated at this time. A low vaccination

rate means that thereis a higher rate of infectious disease within pets in China. We

recommend vaccinating all pets against rabies and distemper yearly.  The distemper

combination vaccine protects against a distemper virus and several other infectious

diseases. Our recommendation for yearly vaccinations extends to both indoor cats

and dogs that rarely go outside.



As young animals our pets may have received some protection against certain infectious diseases from their mother’s milk. This protection is transferred in the first few days of nursing in the form of antibodies. Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system to recognize and neutralize foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. The antibodies an animal receives through the mother’s milk are called maternal antibodies.  With time these antibodies will start to decrease in the body. At that point, the pet’s immune system must produce its own antibodies. Your pet is stimulated to make antibodies by vaccination or exposure to a disease. Since we don’t want to risk exposing our animals to an infectious disease, we vaccinate to provide protection.


Young or previously unvaccinated animals must be vaccinated several times in order for them to develop a sufficient level of antibodies for protection. Vaccination must be performed on a certain time schedule to develop immunity against a disease. We vaccinate starting at 6-8 weeks of age to protect the animal should they have received insufficient protective antibodies from their mother.


If a young animal still has high maternal antibodies the initial vaccines will not stimulate the immune system, as the maternal antibodies will neutralize the vaccine.   The age at which the maternal antibodies are low enough for the vaccine to stimulate the immune system is different for each animal. As a result, we vaccinate in a series of injections (called booster vaccinations) approximately every 3-4 weeks until an animal is 16 weeks of age. If we were to merely wait until an older age to start vaccination, the animal could be at risk for infection because the maternal antibodies may be too low.


The time period between each booster vaccination is also important. If given too closely together, vaccines can interfere with each other and insufficiently stimulate the immune system.


Your ICVS veterinarian will make recommendations for your pet’s vaccination schedule based on your pet’s age, breed, and history. At your first vaccination appointment, your veterinarian will create a tailored vaccination schedule for you to follow and take with you. Following these recommendations closely is crucial to best protect your pet against infectious diseases.



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