Pet vaccinations: Your common questions answered

Vaccinations are an important part of your pet’s preventative health program. Vaccines are designed to protect your pets against a range of life-threatening illnesses, giving them the best chance of living a long and healthy life.

Since opening our small animal vet clinic in East Gawler, we’ve been asked lots of questions about pet vaccinations. Read on to find out the answers to the most common queries we’ve received.

Why do pets actually need vaccinations?

Many diseases that can affect dogs and cats are incredibly infectious. While puppies and kittens receive immunity to a range of diseases through their mother’s milk, once they reach about 6 weeks of age, they start to become vulnerable to infection.

Vaccines help to stimulate your pet’s immune system and prevent future infections from diseases. Without vaccination, your pet is significantly at risk of developing illnesses that could prove costly to treat and may even become fatal.

How often do pets need to be vaccinated?

Your pet’s vaccination schedule is usually determined by their stage of life.

It is recommended that puppies and kittens receive their first vaccination when they are 6-8 weeks old. The timing of their second vaccination can vary depending on your pet’s breed, lifestyle and individual needs. Their third vaccination is given at 16 weeks of age or older.

After these initial vaccinations during the first stage of their lives, cats and dogs typically move to an annual vaccination schedule. This yearly visit to the vet is also a great opportunity for your pet to be seen by a vet, without having to make a separate appointment for a check-up.

At the Cameron Veterinary Services small animal clinic, we undertake a comprehensive health check at the time of every vaccination. We allow 30 minutes to thoroughly check over your pet, discuss any other preventative health recommendations, and address any concerns or questions you may have.

What diseases should my pet be protected against?

Your vet will recommend a vaccination program that is designed to suit their lifestyle and age.

A common vaccination schedule includes protection against:

  • Dogs – parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and kennel cough.
  • Cats – herpesvirus, calicivirus, parvovirus and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

Are there side effects from vaccination?

While it is very uncommon for a pet to have any serious side effects from being vaccinated, we understand that some pet owners may have concerns about vaccinations.

Just like humans, pets can sometimes experience some mild side effects in the day or two following their vaccinations. This can include minor swelling at the injection site, a mild fever, decreased appetite and mild respiratory signs such as sneezing.

If you are ever concerned about any side effects your pet may be experiencing, please contact your vet for advice.

What happens if my pet misses a vaccination?

We understand that life can get busy, and your pet’s annual vaccination booster may not always be provided on schedule. However, the longer you leave it for your pet to receive their scheduled vaccination, the less immunity they have against the most common viral diseases. Therefore, it is important to schedule an appointment for their booster as close as possible to their scheduled date.

What if my cat is always kept indoors?

A common misconception when it comes to vaccinations is that cats who don’t socialise with other pets don’t require protection against infectious diseases. Most of the viruses that vaccination protects against are airborne viruses. Such viruses can very easily be spread through an open window, so it is necessary for all cats to be vaccinated, regardless of if they are indoor or outdoor pets.

Still have questions about pet vaccinations?

Vaccinating your pet is ultimately a personal choice, but it is important that you are fully informed of the risk of disease to your cat or dog.

A vet is the best source of information regarding vaccinations. They can answer any of your questions, and tailor a vaccination program that suit’s your pet’s age, condition and lifestyle. If you have any questions about the suitability of vaccinating your pet, our small animal vets would be happy to discuss all the options available.

To book an appointment, call us on 8318 1801 or you can book online. All of our appointments are 30 minutes long, so you will never feel rushed when you visit our clinic.