Vaccinations and Young Pets
Our puppies and kittens get their first vaccination at 8 weeks of age. They then receive their next two boosters at 4-week intervals. We vaccinate in this manner because mothers are able to pass on antibodies through their colostrum, or milk, to their off spring. This provides a certain amount of protection to the babies until they are old enough to be fully weaned.
In certain situations, an animal may receive vaccinations early. This occurs when an animal is at a much higher risk of infections, such as
In a rescue or shelter environment
If they received milk replacer
If they are from a breeder
These early vaccinations are given in addition to the regular vaccination protocol and do not replace the vaccines given at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age.
While a dog is more likely to become infected in a kennel-like environment (more animals sharing a small, enclosed space), the Bordetella vaccine is designed to increase resistance to upper respiratory infections and is not isolated to kennels. Bordetella is a highly contagious infection that is spread through aerosols and does not require direct contact between animals for it to spread. Due to this, many puppy classes, doggy day cares, boarding facilities, and groomers require the vaccination prior to seeing your dog.
The Bordetella vaccine is very similar to that of our flu shot – it helps the body defend against an upper respiratory infection. While a dog is more likely to become infected with an upper respiratory condition in kennel and grooming facilities (where there are more animals in a small, enclosed space experiencing stress), this vaccine is appropriate for all dogs to receive. This vaccine is designed to increase a pet’s resistance to the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacterium which as actually spread through aerosols, meaning the infected animal does not need to come into contact with another dog to spread the infection.
This is why many facilities such as Doggy Day Cares, Training Classes, Boarding Facilities, and Groomers require the vaccination prior to seeing your dog.
In humans we often associate leukemia with cancer. In cats however, it is most commonly linked to a leukemia causing retrovirus. While many people choose only to vaccinate their outside cats against this condition, we always advise caution and recommend it for all of our feline friends. In fact, a few years ago the incidence of the feline leukemia virus was so high that the Edmonton Humane Society and Animal Care and Control Centre released a campaign showing an indoor cat sitting at an open window with an outdoor cat hissing at it through the screen. This ad was to demonstrate how easily transmission can occur, even though the two cats never came into physical contact with each other.
Now that our pets are a year old and have been fully vaccinated as kittens/puppies, they are no longer considered to have `naive` immune systems. At Sherwood Veterinary Clinic, we take advantage of a 3-year Rabies vaccine. As with our mainstream vaccines, it does require a ‘booster’ in order to maintain a 3-year program. The vaccine is initially given at the 16-week mark and then boosted one year from that date. At this point, the vaccine is considered valid for 3 years from that date.
For any adult pet who did not receive the full set of puppy or kitten vaccines when they were younger, they will require a second booster of the DA2PP, Bordetella, RCCP, Leukemia vaccines one month after the initial administration. Once they have received their second set of vaccinations, they will be good to continue on with the regular vaccine schedule.
While animals are considered to be ‘seniors’ at the age of seven, they are often still able to receive vaccination at their routine schedule for a few more years. As our pets age their needs change and we start considering more carefully the balance between overall health and the ability of the body to handle vaccinations based on their risk assessment.
Since many of our older pets are still able to receive vaccinations well into their golden years, the choice to forgo vaccination can only be determined on an individual basis. Our veterinarians are equipped to perform risk assessments with you and help determine exactly what vaccines are, or are not, appropriate for your pet and their unique situations. While vaccinations are really quite safe, we must take into account other pre-existing medical conditions that may inhibit the ability of your pet’s immune system to mount an effective response to the vaccine.
While titre testing is still quite new in the veterinary field, we are happy to say that we are able to offer this service to our clients. Manufacturers of our vaccines actually use titre testing themselves to assess the efficacy and duration of effect of the vaccines. They have found that the vaccines are effective for 12-36 months from date of vaccination. Often people choose to vaccinate yearly to be certain their pets have complete immunity, however, for anyone who is interested in pursuing titre testing, we are happy to accommodate!
While titre testing is a great option for anyone, it is particularly advantageous to owners who have a pet that experiences the rare vaccine reaction. Often these reactions are an allergic response and can be maintained by administering an injectable antihistamine 20 minutes before administering the vaccine. However, as titre testing becomes more popular, it will become more readily available to us. We are happy to discuss this option with anyone who has questions or concerns.