Vaccinations are an essential step in preventing certain illnesses that could be harmful, debilitating, or life-threatening. At Lawndale Veterinary Hospital, we consider immunizations to be a critical part of your pet’s preventive care strategy.

Vaccination schedules should be reviewed at least annually. Factors such as age, overall health status, medical conditions, vaccination history, risk of disease exposure, lifestyle, and current guidelines will affect our recommendations.

Vaccination Frequency:

Puppies and kittens begin vaccinations between 6 and 9 weeks of age. At that age, maternal antibodies are still present and interfere with certain vaccines. Therefore, the vaccines are boostered every 3 to 4 weeks until the pet is approximately 16 weeks of age and maternal antibodies have waned. Learn more about puppy vaccines here.

Adult pets should have their vaccine status evaluated at least annually with an exam. Depending on lifestyle and vaccine type, vaccines will be boostered anywhere from every 6 months to every 3 years in adults.

Vaccine Safety and Monitoring:

Vaccines have revolutionized our potential to prevent disease in pets, and for the most part pets tolerate vaccines well. However any time an animal receives any product, including a vaccine, it is important to remember that a reaction could occur. If your pet has had a prior reaction to a vaccine, always notify our staff at the beginning of your pet’s vaccination visit so that we can take precautionary measures. After your pet receives vaccines, it is important to keep a close eye on your pet to monitor for any problems or concerns.

Mild responses to vaccines could include lethargy, decreased appetite, mild fever, and/or mild sensitivity or swelling at the site of an injection. When these signs occur they are often mild and self limiting. If these signs last for more than a day or so, or if your pet is uncomfortable, it is important for you to contact us to discuss things further with our staff and veterinarians.

Less commonly, allergic reactions may occur. Signs can develop within minutes to hours of the vaccine. Contact us (or an emergency clinic if after hours) immediately if you notice vomiting or diarrhea, skin changes (rash, bumps, itching), facial swelling, difficulty breathing, or collapse. These signs can be life-threatening and can indicate a medical emergency.

Canine Vaccines:

Rabies *REQUIRED BY LAW*All dogsAnnual then every 3 years
Distemper / Adenovirus / Parainfluenza / Parvovirus (Combo)All dogsInitial (2 vaccines 2-3 weeks apart depending on age), then annual to every 2 years depending on age, vaccine history, and lifestyle
LeptospirosisDogs exposed to wildlife/waterInitial (2 vaccines 2-3 weeks apart), then annual
LymeDogs exposed to ticksInitial (2 vaccines 2-3 weeks apart), then annual
Bordetella (Kennel cough)Dogs who have contact with other dogs (boarding, parks, stores, day care, etc.)Every 6 months

Feline Vaccines:

Rabies *REQUIRED BY LAW*All catsAnnual
Panleukopenia / Rhinotracheitis / Calici / Chlamydia (Combo)All catsInitial (2 vaccines 2-3 weeks apart depending on age), then annual to every 3 years depending on age, vaccine history, and lifestyle
Feline LeukemiaCats that go outdoorsInitial (2 vaccines 2-3 weeks apart), then annual to every 2 years depending on age, vaccine history, and lifestyle

General: (Click here for answer key)

  1. Which vaccine is legally required for all dogs and cats older than 16 weeks?
  2. Are vaccines effective immediately?
  3. Is it ok for a pet to receive multiple vaccinations on the same day?
  4. At times, some vaccines need to be boostered after 2 to 4 weeks. What happens if the pet does not come back to receive the booster vaccine?

Cats: (Click here for answer key)

  1. If a cat goes outside, they should receive these vaccines: (1) Rabies; (2) Panleukopenia/Rhinotracheitis/Calici/Chlamydia combination; and (3) _______________________________ .
  2. Why does Lawndale use a non-adjuvanted Rabies vaccine in cats?
  3. Is there a cure for Feline Leukemia?

Dogs: (Click here for answer key)

  1. Parvovirus infection is most commonly found in puppies. Signs can include intense, severe vomiting and diarrhea. Puppies with Parvo can get incredibly sick or even die. Can puppies who are in the middle of their puppy shot series (ages 0 to 16 weeks) still develop Parvo?
  2. A Kennel Cough vaccine should be administered every 6 months to dogs who are boarded, groomed, taken to the dog park, or visit doggie daycares. For dogs that don’t go to these places, are there other possible routes of exposure to consider?
  3. A zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted between animals and humans. What zoonotic diseases can dogs be vaccinated against?

~Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS