Why do I need to vaccinate my puppy or kitten?

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Why do I need to vaccinate my puppy or kitten?

by Paul Chapin, DVM
 
Puppies and kittens need vaccinations, just like children, to protect them from many dangerous, infectious diseases. When puppies and kittens are born, their immune systems have not fully developed yet and they are unable to fight off infections on their own. Fortunately, they receive temporary immunity from their mother through normal nursing.
 
At around 6 to 8 weeks of age, the maternal antibody protection begins to fade, leaving a puppy or kitten susceptible to infectious, often fatal diseases like canine and feline distemper and parvovirus.
 
To protect a puppy and kitten from the devastating effects of these diseases, veterinarians will administer a series of vaccinations at specific intervals. These vaccines are designed to stimulate an immune response to prevent infection. (That’s why we all want a COVID-19 vaccine for ourselves.)
 
For the best protection, your puppy should receive their first vaccines between 6 to 8 weeks of age. Boosters will be repeated every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy reaches 16 to 18 weeks of age. The number of boosters will depend on the age of the puppy when it receives its first vaccination. Breeders often start vaccinating puppies as early as 5 weeks. This may result in the puppy needing to receive extra boosters.
 
Kittens should start their vaccination series at around 9 weeks of age and should receive a booster in 3 to 4 weeks.
 
The intervals between vaccines are very important. Do not wait more than 4 weeks between boosters, otherwise, a good immune response may not be achieved and additional boosters may then be required.
 
Annual revaccination is needed for all dogs and cats. 
 
Properly vaccinating your puppy or kitten will help ensure the best start at a healthy and happy life to spend with you. 
 
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