Whether you have just adopted a new puppy or rescued a shelter dog or cat, now is the time to get started on their immunizations. Doing so can help protect them from common diseases that can cause major health complications and even death.
What Are Pet Vaccinations?
Just like the shots we get for things like the flu and polio, your pets need the same protection for diseases that affect them. Vaccinations contain antigens, which seem like the disease to the immune system but don’t actually cause the disease. The immune system is then stimulated to build up a resistance to that disease. Later, if your pet is exposed to the disease, her body will be prepared to fend it off. This either prevents the disease altogether, or it makes the case less severe.
What Vaccinations Should My Pet Get?
There are several core vaccinations for both dogs and cats. Talk with your veterinarian about which immunizations your pet needs. In addition to the core vaccinations, there might be other diseases common to your area or type of pet that might warrant additional vaccinations.
Core immunizations for dogs include:
- Canine parvovirus
- Canine hepatitis
Core immunizations for cats include:
- Feline calicivirus
- Feline herpesvirus
- Feline distemper
When Should I Get My Pet Vaccinated?
The best time to get started on vaccinations is when your pet is young. Puppies or kittens might need a little time to develop before vaccinations, but starting young will give them the protection they need.
Some vaccinations last for years and even for your pet’s entire life, while others need to be updated regularly. Stay in touch with your vet so you can keep your pets current on vaccinations.
Even if your pet is older and hasn’t received vaccinations, there are still some that will do him good. Talk with your vet about which vaccinations your older pet still needs.
Pet health is often about prevention. Just like giving your pet a healthy diet and exercise, preventive medicine like vaccinations can help ensure a long and healthy life for your dog or cat.