Why A Series Of Vaccinations?

Vaccinations for Puppies:

 There are many diseases that are fatal to dogs.  Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent many of these by the use of very effective vaccines.  In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections.  Ideally, they are given at about 6, 9, 12, and 16 weeks of age, but this schedule may vary somewhat depending on several factors.  We will recommend vaccinating your puppy every three to four weeks until they are 16 weeks old.  (The last two vaccinations much occur at/after 12 weeks of age.)

 The routine vaccination schedule will protect your puppy from six diseases: distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza virus, parvovirus, leptosporosis, and rabies.  The first four are included in one injection that is given around 6, 9, 12, and 16 weeks old.  Both the leptosporosis and rabies vaccinations are given at 12 and 16 weeks of age.  There are two other optional vaccinations that are appropriate in certain situations.  Your puppy should receive two kennel cough vaccines if a trip to a boarding kennel is likely or if it will be placed in a puppy training class.  Kennel cough vaccine will also be required for the hospital stay for spaying or neutering.  Lyme vaccine is given to dogs that are exposed to ticks because Lyme Disease is transmitted by ticks.  Please advise us of these needs on your next visit.

Why the Series of Vaccinations

 When the puppy nurses its mother, it receives a temporary form of immunity through its mother’s milk.  This immunity is in the form of proteins called antibodies.  For about 24-48 hours after birth, the puppy’s intestine allows absorption of these antibodies directly into the blood stream.  This immunity is of benefit during the first few weeks of the puppy’s life, but at some point, this immunity fails and the puppy must be able to make its own long-lasting immunity.  Vaccinations are used for this purpose.  As long as the mother’s antibodies are present, vaccinations do not have a chance to stimulate the puppy’s immune system.  The mother’s antibodies interfere by neutralizing the vaccine.

 Many factors determine when the puppy will be able to respond to the vaccinations.  These include the level of immunity in the mother dog, how much antibody has been absorbed, and the number of vaccines given to the puppy.  Since we do not know when an individual puppy will lose the short-term immunity, we give a series of vaccinations.  We hope that at least two of these will fall in the window of time when the puppy has lost immunity from its mother but has not yet been exposed to disease.  A single vaccination, even if effective, is not likely to stimulate the long-term immunity that is so important. 

Vaccinations for Kittens:

There are many diseases that are fatal to cats.  Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent many of these by using very effective vaccines.  In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections.  Ideally, they are given at about 6, 9, 12, and 16 weeks of age, but this schedule may vary somewhat depending on several factors. 

The routine vaccination schedule will protect your kitten from four diseases: distemper, two respiratory viruses, and rabies.  The first three are included in a combination vaccine that is given at 6, 9, 12, and 16 weeks old.  Rabies vaccine is also necessary and is given at the 12 and 16 week vaccination series.  Leukemia vaccine is necessary if your cat will ever see other cats, be boarded or groomed, or you may leave windows open at times in the year.  Leukemia vaccination is also needed at 12 and 16 weeks of age.  Our vaccination is the safest one around and is needle-less, making it easy for you and your pet.  If your cat presents for vaccination after 12 weeks of age, it will still need each of these vaccinations at first presentation and again 3-5 weeks later to gain adequate immunity.  One vaccine of any of these alone is not enough to protect.

The Need for a Series of Vaccinations

When the kitten nurses its mother, it receives a temporary form of immunity through its mother’s milk.  This immunity is in the form of proteins called antibodies.  For about 24-48 hours after birth, the kitten’s intestine allows absorption of these antibodies directly into the blood stream.  This immunity is of benefit during the first few weeks of the kitten’s life, but, at some point, this immunity fails and the kitten must be able to make its own long-lasting immunity.  Vaccinations are used for this purpose.  As long as the mother’s antibodies are present, vaccinations do not “take.”  The mother’s antibodies will neutralize the vaccine so the vaccine does not get a chance to stimulate the kitten’s immune system.

Many factors determine when the kitten will be able to respond to the vaccines.  These include the level of immunity in the mother cat, how much of the antibody has been absorbed, and the number of vaccines given the kitten.  Since we do not know when an individual kitten will lose the short-term immunity, we give a series of vaccinations.  We hope that at least two of these will fall in the window of time when the kitten has lost the immunity from its mother but has not yet been exposed to disease.  A single vaccination, even if effective, is not likely to stimulate the long-term immunity that is so important.