Young puppies and kittens don’t yet have strong immune systems and aren’t resistant to the common diseases that plague domestic animals. While they are still nursing, the antibodies in the mother’s milk protect them from most diseases, but by about 16 weeks of age, the maternal antibodies wear off and that’s when vaccinations become necessary. At Richmond Hill Animal Hospital, we believe puppies and kittens vaccinated from around 6 weeks of age are able to build up the antibodies needed to resist the diseases by the time this happens, as long as they follow the recommended regimen of shots.
Core vaccines are commonly the immunizations that are critical for the survival of your pet. These include:
- Canine Distemper (CDV)
- Parvovirus (CPV2)
- Adenovirus, also called Canine Hepatitis (CAV-2)
- Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV)
- Feline Calicivirus (FCV)
These are all diseases that are very highly contagious, most of which can be caught simply by drinking from a water puddle used by an infected animal. Since you have no idea what the condition is of dogs that have passed through public spaces before yours, it’s impossible to guard against these illnesses. Rabies is a little more complex, in that it is spread mainly by bite wounds, but once a pet contracts the disease it is usually fatal and can also be passed onto the human members of your family.
At Richmond Hill Animal Hospital we can also immunize your pet against a variety of other, less life-threatening illnesses, depending on his or her likelihood of exposure and the level of risk in the area where you live. These usually include canine measles, lyme disease and Corona virus. Bordetella or kennel cough is common among dogs that socialize a lot with others, in places such as dog parks, doggie daycare or boarding kennels, so if your dog is an indoor pet who rarely meets strange animals then bordetella vaccine may not be necessary. In cats, non-core vaccines usually include:
- Feline leukemia (FeLV)
- Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
Both species have other conditions for which vaccines are available but not widely administered, based on their success rates.
Once vaccination simply isn’t enough to keep your pet safe for his or her lifetime, and that’s why regular booster shots are recommended. Canadian veterinarians such as Dr. Kadri at Richmond Hill Animal Hospital follow the American Animal Hospital Association’s guidelines for canine vaccinations, which provide detailed instructions for the use of each vaccine. Rabies, for example, can be given annually or once every three years, depending on the type of vaccine they received to begin with.
Risks of Skipping Shots
By ignoring your pet’s annual revaccination date, you run the risk of him or her catching something that could be fatal or could certainly cost significant sums of money to treat. Maybe not right away, but once the existing protection wears off. And it’s also worth remembering that even if you have veterinary insurance, your pet is typically not covered for any illnesses that could have been prevented by immunization, if the shots are not up to date.
So, when you get that little reminder in the mail, don’t ignore it. You could be gambling with your fur-baby’s life, and you’re risking huge financial costs. Call us at Richmond Hill Animal Hospital for a quote to find out what it will cost you to have your pet’s annual vaccination done. If you can’t have it all done right away, Dr. Kadri will discuss with you which ones are most important based on the time of year, your location and your pet’s age and state of health.
If you’re considering changing your pet’s vaccination schedule, set up an appointment with Dr. Kadri before you do so to find out what shots you shouldn’t skip.