Vaccine administration is a widely debated topic in veterinary medicine just as it is in human medicine. There is a balance of vaccinating each patient due to their environment and activity level. No patient should ever be vaccinated for diseases that they will never be exposed to.
For example, some indoor cats may not need to be vaccinated for Feline Leukemia or FIP. However, if your cat “just sits on the porch” or ventures outside at all, it is recommended to vaccinate for those potential diseases, especially since they are fatal. You may also want to consider vaccinating your indoor cat for Leukemia if you want to bring a new kitten home in the future.
It is very important to talk to your veterinarian and listen to his or her recommendations on which vaccines are appropriate for your pet.
|8 Weeks||12 Weeks||16 Weeks|
Rabies (pet must be
12 weeks of age)
|Kitten||Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (Herpes), Calicivirus, Panleukopenia
combination #1 (FVRCP)
|FVRCP #2 Leukemia #1 Rabies (pet must be 12 weeks of age)||FVRCP #3 Leukemia|
|Dogs||Rabies Distemper/Parvo (DHPP) Leptospirosis (depending
on area) Bordetella
|Cats||Rabies FVRCP Leukemia (depending on lifestyle) FIP (ONLY if outdoor cat)|
As noted previously, there are many opinions on which vaccines should be given and how often. For example, there is a Rabies vaccine that is effective for up to three years, but it is a law in some states/counties that it is still given yearly. Also, each area and veterinary clinic is going to vary widely on how often to give the Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine. It is generally recommended every 2-6 months depending on whether the vaccine was given as a liquid in the nose or as an injection. Talk to your veterinarian, as he or she is the best judge of how prevalent Bordetella is in your area.
Vaccine reactions are very rare. However, if you have a pet that is very tiny (< 5 pounds) or just prone to reactions, this is a very real problem. Unfortunately, you will not know if your pet will react to vaccines until it happens. Vaccine reactions arise more commonly when a pet is young, but can appear at any age. This is due to the different vaccine manufactures available to veterinarians. The way one manufacturer makes their vaccine may cause your pet to react. If your pet does have a true vaccine reaction, it is still imperative to vaccinate them yearly. Based on your veterinarian’s recommendations, the vaccines may be given one week apart so your pet is only given one vaccine at a time. Or, an injection can be given 15 minutes before the vaccines to prevent a reaction.
If your pet has a chronic debilitating disease such as cancer or is geriatric, sometimes it is best to not give vaccines. Ask your veterinarian if your pet is vaccine exempt.
There is also one more option-vaccine titers. This involves testing the amount of antibodies in your pet’s blood before vaccination. If your pet has a high titer to the virus (Rabies, Distemper, Parvo), then they do not need to be vaccinated that year. This is an excellent option for owners that wish to only vaccinate their pets when biologically necessary. While this is a great option, the titers are much more expensive than the vaccinations. Depending on the laboratory used, Rabies titers can top $150. Most owners opt to vaccinate their pets without knowing if it is biologically needed-please be aware there is no danger to this decision. It is not harmful to vaccinate a pet for any virus if their titer to that virus is already high.