By ensuring your pet is vaccinated, you provide protection against many diseases. Some of these diseases are highly contagious and can be fatal to our pet and other animals exposed to the disease.

Dr Bridget Brown, Animal Welfare League Queensland (AWLQ) Senior Veterinarian, says vaccinating your pet has long been considered one of the easiest ways to help them live a long, healthy life.

“Vaccinations are extremely important for the health and wellbeing of our pets, particularly cats and dogs. Kittens and puppies begin vaccinations early, to protect them from infectious diseases while their immune systems are still developing,” said Dr Brown.

Dr Brown adds that diseases such as hepatitis, parvovirus, feline respiratory viruses and feline enteritis can be very serious and even fatal, especially in young animals.

“It’s important that pet owners take preventative measures to ensure their cats and dogs are protected against these diseases in the first place, rather than reacting and trying to treat them later down the track,” said Dr Brown.

Vaccines are health products that trigger protective immune responses in pets and prepare them to fight future infections from disease-causing agents. Vaccines can lessen the severity of future diseases and certain vaccines can prevent infection altogether.

Our bodies remember this process, and if the same infection comes into our system again we quickly produce a strong immune response to fight it off again. Today’s pet vaccinations are very safe, tested and common place.

“Puppies must receive their first vaccination between 6-8 weeks of age. This is then repeated monthly, or at 4 week intervals until your dog is at least 4 months old. Cats are generally vaccinated at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks and then once a year, to protect them from diseases such as feline enteritis and cat flu, which can be very serious and even fatal, particularly for kittens,” said Dr Brown.

Booster vaccines are then maintained annually or triannually – your vet will be able to advise you of the exact timeframes for scheduled vaccinations for your pet.

Many factors are taken into consideration when establishing a pet’s vaccination plan. Your veterinarian will tailor a program of vaccinations to help your pet maintain a lifetime of infectious disease protection

“The most commonly administered vaccinations for dogs are Canine Distemper, Canine Infectious Hepatitis, Canine Parvovirus, Canine Parainfluenza and Bordetella Bronchiseptica. Your cat should be vaccinated against Feline Panleukopenia, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis and Feline Calicivirus.

During this, it’s important to discuss any travel plans, exposure to water sources and wildlife and upcoming plans to board your pet. This may alter the type of vaccinations your pet’s veterinarian administers,” said Dr Brown.

Although most pets respond well to vaccines, like any medical procedure, vaccination carries an element of risk. The most common are mild and short-term, including fever, sluggishness, and reduced appetite. Pets may also experience temporary pain or subtle swelling at the site of vaccination.

Reasons to keep your pet vaccination and booster schedule current include:

  • A complete vaccine schedule can protect your pet from a variety of serious diseases that can be life-threatening, painful and debilitating.
  • Boarding and grooming facilities, along with doggy daycares, require proof that your pet has been vaccinated to protect their other guests.
  • Vaccines actually help to strengthen your pet’s overall immune system.