Once your furry bundle of energy has wriggled its way into your heart, its time to think about healthcare. Since pets usually don’t come with an owner’s manual, new owners often wonder about vaccinations and de-worming. Just like children, your pets need vaccinations in order to live a healthier life. Regular and routine vaccinations and de-worming are in place to prevent possible fatal infections and diseases.
Both puppies and kittens are able to get temporary protection or immunity from their mother’s first milk or colostrum if the mother has already been vaccinated. This immunity will decrease as your puppy or kitten grows and they will need to develop their own immunity. Puppies and kittens can be infected with parasites through the placenta at birth or through their mother’s milk. Pets will eat just about anything during their early weeks, so they pick up parasites very easily. Some of today’s dewormers are very gentle and can be safely given repeatedly to remove the unwanted guests.
This is when you should start your pet’s vaccinations. The immunity they have received from their mother’s milk or colostrum is normally gone by 10 to 12 weeks of age. Vaccinations are timed to stimulate the puppy or kitten to build their own immunity as the passive protection is gone. We like to give a gentle dewormer at the time of each vaccination to help your new pet eliminate unwanted pests.
The veterinarians at Upper Valley Veterinary Clinic recommend that you give your puppy or kitten a second vaccination or booster to help build your pet’s immunity level. Don’t forget another dose of gentle dewormer.
We recommend that you give the last of a puppy or kitten series of booster vaccinations. Often this is when we give the first rabies vaccination even though it can be given any time after 12 weeks of age. If you plan to kennel your puppy, most places require your pet to be current on a kennel cough (Bordetella) vaccine. This vaccine requires a booster 3-4 weeks after the initial dose. These vaccinations during your pet’s first few months of life are designed to insure that you have a healthy pet for a long time. Vaccinations are effective in more than 95% of pets.
1 Year and onwards
After the 16 week vaccinations, the vaccine shots are less frequent. Most dogs and cats need an annual combination booster of either distemper/parvo or distemper/leukemia. Rabies vaccine should be boosted one year from the initial dose and then every three years. Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine should be boosted annually. It is important to remember that the cost of vaccinating your pet is minimal when compared to paying for a sick pet. Not only is prevention cheaper than a cure, it also reduces possible virus transmissions between pets. If your pet catches mice or rodents, you will need to visit with your veterinarian to decide if you need to give your pet a dewormer to help with tapeworms.
When you acquire a new pet and are told “its had all its shots” we recommend that you ask specifically what and when was given so you can visit with your veterinarian to establish a vaccination program that will give your new friend the best coverage possible. Another good question to ask is what kind and brand of food your puppy or kitten is being fed so you can keep them on the same diet. This will help prevent stomach upsets. If you want to change to a different brand, you will want to transition from old to new food over 7-10 days.
Even though many pets love people food, it isn’ t the healthiest thing for them and can lead to some problems. It is better to feed your pet foods that are balanced for their body’s needs. Young animals should have puppy or kitten food for the first year. There are special foods for large breed puppies and dogs. Senior pets (over 8 years old) need to be on a senior food. The right food really helps to promote normal growth and a healthy, shiny coat. If you have questions regarding vaccinations or new pet care, remember to call your veterinarian. Here at Upper Valley Veterinary Clinic our doctors and staff will be happy to answer your questions.