- Both dogs and cats are given a puppy or kitten series, respectively, of Distemper vaccinations starting at 6 weeks and ending at approximately 4.5 to 5 months of age. After that, they receive another distemper one year following their last puppy or kitten distemper and every 3 years after that throughout life.
- Currently, the state of Texas requires that dogs be vaccinated against rabies at three months of age, one year later, with revaccinations every three years thereafter through life.
- At Emerson Animal Hospital, cats are vaccinated at the same intervals as dogs, except that we continue vaccinating cats annually for rabies because of the possility of tumor production resulting from adjuvants (materials used to extend shelf life of vaccines) in three year feline rabies vaccines.
- We will continue these rabies vaccination recommendations for all our patients until the state rabies law is revised by the Texas legislature or other state regulations are adopted. We will also continue offering other vaccinations as boosters as frequently as deemed necessary by Drs. Emerson and Frey, annually for some vaccines and triennially for others, unless you choose otherwise, or unless those vaccines are medically contraindicated for your pet. Some of our friends and clients have stated they feel safer if their pets are vaccinated annually as has been done for years. In those cases, we will adhere to their wishes.
- There is good evidence obtained through thorough research indicating that not all animals need annual vaccinations, but these same studies do not tell us which ones do. It is highly likely that some pets, because of age, either young or old, or compromised immune systems or ill health, will always need vaccinations more frequently, rather than at intervals of 2 to 3 years. With the technology available today, we are unable to determine which ones those are.
Dog, Cat and Ferret Vaccination Recommendations
Vaccinations to prevent infectious diseases are as important for pets as they are for children! Many deadly diseases that commonly plagued dogs and cats in the past are rarely seen today, except in unvaccinated or under vaccinated animals, simply because vaccination programs used by veterinarians are extremely effective.
What vaccines should dogs receive?
- Dogs should begin their initial puppy vaccination series at 6 weeks of age. These vaccines contain viruses which give immunity in healthy pets to canine distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, parvovirus, and coronavirus and are given once monthly until the animal is approximately 5 months old. A minimum of two vaccinations are necessary for all previously unvaccinated adult dogs.
- In the past, a booster or annual vaccination was given once yearly throughout the pet's life. Research has shown that some vaccines in our pet vaccination protocol will give longer lasting immunity against certain diseases. Distemper, parvo and corona are three of those diseases. We have changed our recommendations for these to allow vaccination once every 3 years, rather than annually.
- Leptospirosis, a severe kidney disease which has been included as a portion of this series, will still require annual vaccination.
- Rabies vaccination for puppies is given at 12 weeks of age, a year later, and every three years after that. If an adult dog has never had a rabies vaccination before, it must be vaccinated, receive a second vaccination within one year, and then be revaccinated every three years throughout life.
- Lyme vaccine is important in our area if your pet will be exposed to ticks. The first Lyme vaccination is given at 12 weeks of age. A second dose is given 4 weeks later. Lyme vaccine is then once yearly after that.
- Bordetella vaccine protects against some forms of tracheobronchitis or canine kennel cough. It is required if your dog is visits boarding facilities while you are on vacation or away, or is in dog shows, or is in any way exposed to many other dogs, and it helps prevent this frequently diagnosed disease. New information indicates that this vaccine should be given once every 6 months for good protection for your pet.
What vaccines should cats receive?
- Cats should begin their initial kitten vaccination series at 6 weeks of age. These vaccines contain viruses which give immunity in healthy pets to feline panleukopenia(distemper), rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and chlamydia and are given once monthly until the animal is approximately 5 months old. All cats that have never been vaccinated need a minimum of two vaccinations.
- Annual rabies vaccinations are reccomended for cats beginning at 3 months of age because of the danger and possible relationship associated with adjuvented vaccines (3-year rabies vaccines) and vaccine induced fibrosarcomas.
- Distemper and rhinotracheitis, the 2 main portions of the annual feline distemper vaccination, are vaccines that research shows may be given once every 3 years very successfully and safely, rather than annually. .
- Feline leukemia vaccine is initially given to kittens 9 weeks of age or older. A second vaccination is given approximately one month later. All cats need a minimum of two vaccinations initially, followed by a yearly booster.
- Cats that are allowed outside at any time must be tested annually for feline leukemia and feline AIDS (This is a virus totally unrelated to the virus that causes Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome. There is NO evidence to indicate humans can be infected by this virus, so DO NOT worry about this aspect of the disease.)
What vaccines should ferrets receive?
- Ferrets should begin their initial vaccination series at 6 to 8 weeks of age. This first vaccine contains a virus that gives immunity in healthy pets to canine distemper, and it is given once monthly until the animal is approximately 5 months old. Ferrets are extremely susceptible to this disease, and many unvaccinated ferrets die if they contract distemper. There is no treatment, so vaccination is the only prevention. A minimum of two vaccinations are necessary for all ferrets not previously vaccinated. A booster or annual vaccination is then given yearly. The vaccine used is one made specifically for ferrets.
- Rabies vaccination is given at 12 weeks of age. If a ferret has never had a rabies vaccination before it must be given a second vaccination within one year, and annually after that.
Research in progress
At this time there are many research projects in progress studying vaccination intervals, the length of vaccine produced immunity and the reaction of pets to vaccines to determine if any other changes should be made in any of these recommended procedures for the safety of our pets. Risk factors, such as whether a cat lives indoors or outdoors, may influence how often some vaccinations are required.