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PUPPY AND KITTEN VACCINE SCHEDULES
So, if you have been following, you'll see that I am back on schedule, even though this required two posts in one week. There was a lot of information in the last post, but not all of it useful for the average pet owner. I know, I can be a science wonk sometimes. Here is a summary of our vaccine recommendations for puppies and kittens. The first thing that you'll notice is that some shots are repeated. We will discuss which vaccines your particular pet needs for their life style and risk factors. We'll also tell you that your new pet (especially your puppy) can't go outdoors where other dogs go until they are finished with their pediatric vaccines.
Why can't my puppy go outside until it's had all of it's shots?
I get this question all of the time. It is really a simple answer, although hard for most owners to swallow. Most puppies and kittens are born with some immunity from their parents. this is transferred across the placenta and via milk when nursing. The maternal immunity will decrease over time, disappearing in most pets around the age of 16 weeks. While this immunity will protect your pet while it is very young, they will become vulnerable to infection as the levels drop. In addition, this maternal immunity will interfere with the vaccines that we are giving. So, since we do not know when a particular individual's maternal immunity is low enough to allow the vaccines to work most effectively and we do not know when the vaccine induced immunity is high enough to be completely effective, we make a vaccine schedule that is designed to offer protection in what has proven over time to be a statistically effective way. That is, we vaccinate periodically until 16 weeks of age so that maternal immunity is gone and vaccine immunity is present. If your pet goes outside before this time and is exposed to one of the infectious agents that we are vaccinating for before it is completely immune, it is at risk of catching a very serious disease.
Now this isn't magic and the diseases are spread by infectious agents, viruses, bacteria, and mycoplasmas. If you can take your dog outside where no other dogs go, then these agents will not be present and your dog will not be at risk. This is why we say that you can take your dog outside in the yard for training if you have a spot where no other dogs go. No dogs, no viruses, no risk. This means your yard, no puppy classes, no trips to the pet shop, no walks to the bus stop. I'm not being mean, I'm just trying to recommend the best practices for your pet. I went through the frustrations when Bella was a puppy and I do understand, but she didn't get a walk to the local fire hydrant until her vaccines were complete.
Puppy Vaccine Schedule
We recommend vaccinating all Puppies for DHPPV (see previous post for vaccine descriptions) every 3 - 4 weeks from 6 weeks of age until they are 16 weeks of age. In our area, most puppies also get two leptospirosis vaccines incorporated with two of these injections. Bordetella is given once, intranasally, usually around 12 weeks of age and Rabies vaccine is given at 16 weeks (18 weeks in small puppies to minimize reactions by giving too many antigens at once)
Dogs that will be at risk of Lyme disease are vaccinated twice as an initial series, usually in the two weeks between the DHPPV vaccines. K9 Flu can also be given at that time (twice, between DHPPV vaccines for dogs that will be boarding. The adult vaccination program is reviewed with the owners at this point and most vaccines will be boosted one year later.
Kitten Vaccine Schedule
Kittens can often complete their core vaccines by 12 - 14 weeks of age. They need an FVRPC every 3 - 4 weeks form 6 weeks until they are 14 weeks old. New recommendations are for all kittens to receive Feline Leukemia Vaccines, even if that is not continued as an adult. This vaccine can be given with the FVRPC. Rabies can be given after 3 months of age. Initial boosters are one year later and the adult vaccine protocol will be discussed at this time.
While we try to explain the vaccine programs in advance to owners, they are usually overwhelmed with having a new pet. Usually we just tell them when to come in next and when they do, we explain what we will be giving. However, we have found those little health records helpful in cases where owners want the entire schedule laid out for them in advance, so we can accommodate you either way.
I can't answer specific health questions, but you can ask questions of a general nature on twitter. My account there is @KNVet. Follow me and drop me a line.