Puppies and kittens are born with an immune system that is immature so they are very susceptible to infection with common diseases. When puppies and kittens are not properly vaccinated they are at risk of infection from these life threatening diseases that are easily prevented with proper and timely vaccination. Puppies and kittens do get some antibodies and immunity against disease from their mother’s milk.
It is important that puppies and kittens start their vaccine series early and continue through to 16 weeks of age as it is not known how strong the immunity is they get from their mother or when that maternal immunity disappears from the puppy’s or kitten’s system. Vaccines are typically given in a series of shots usually 2-3 weeks apart in order for the body to make a protective amount of antibodies against disease. The vaccines that are given to puppies and kittens protect them against the most common diseases. The puppy and kitten visits to get vaccinated are also an important opportunity to examine your pet for possible issues, and to discuss nutrition, training, and other topics.
For puppies the core vaccines are “DAPP” which stands for Distemper, Canine Infectious, Hepatitis or Adenovirus, Canine Parvovirus, and Canine Par influenza and Rabies. For kittens the core vaccines are ” FVRCP” which stands for Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis or herpes virus ( FVR). Feline Calcivirus and Panleukopenia and Rabies .
Kitten and puppies should start their vaccine series around 6-8 weeks of age and get 2-3 boosters until they are 16 weeks of age when it is thought that maternal antibodies are gone from their systems. The first Rabies vaccine for kittens and puppies is usually around 13 weeks of age.
Should I vaccinate my indoor cat? Many people wonder why their indoor only cat needs to get vaccines. Even when a cat is indoors only, there is still risk of exposure to rabies. Bats and other animals may enter the house, and cats can slip out the door unintentionally. Due to the seriousness of Rabies infection, the state of North Carolina has strict guidelines for vaccinating all pets. It is also critical to protect humans from any potential exposure by vaccinating all cats and dogs. If a cat is not up to date on Rabies vaccination, and there is an exposure, they are considered un-vaccinated by the state of North Carolina.