Vaccinations are an important part of protecting your pets against a range of life-threatening illnesses. By vaccinating your cat, dog or rabbit, you’re giving them the best chance of living a long and healthy life.
There’s a lot of information (and misinformation!) when it comes to vaccinations for pets, so we thought we would compile a list of FAQs – and the answers of course!
Why do pets actually need vaccinations?
Many diseases that can affect dog, cats and rabbits are incredibly infectious. While puppies and kittens receive immunity to a range of diseases through their mother’s milk, once they reach about 4-6 weeks of age, they can 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.
For dogs and cats, it is recommended that puppies and kittens receive their first vaccination when they are 6-8 weeks old. The timing of their second vaccination is between 10-12 weeks. Their third vaccination is given at 16 weeks of age or older.
When it comes to rabbits, kittens should receive their initial vaccination at 4 weeks. The second vaccination is then given at 6-8 weeks of age, with a third recommended at 12 weeks of age. Vaccinations are not done at the Moorabbin Veterinary Hospital unfortunately, but they are done at the Melbourne Rabbit Hospital.
After these initial vaccinations during the first stage of their lives, cats, dogs and rabbits all typically move to annual vaccination boosters.
At Moorabbin Veterinary Hospital, the yearly adult vaccination booster coincides with an annual health check. 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.
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:
- Cats– feline parvovirus, herpesvirus, calicivirus, plus and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) if your cat goes outdoors.
- Dogs – canine parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, Bordetella bronchiseptica and Leptospirosis.
- Rabbits – calcivirus disease.
Are there side effects from vaccinations?
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. We will send you yearly reminders to keep your vaccination booster shots up to date so that your pet will always be fully protected.
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 allcats to be vaccinated, regardless of if they are indoor or outdoor pets. The exception to this is FIV. Indoor cats do not need vaccination for FIV.
Is there a myxomatosis vaccine for rabbits?
Myxomatosis vaccination is unavailable for use in Australia. Therefore, we recommend insect control, mosquito netting the rabbit’s cage and keeping them inside wherever possible to avoid mosquitos.
Have more 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, dog or rabbit. And a vet is the best source of information regarding vaccinations.
At Moorabbin Vet Hospital, we can answer any of your vaccination questions, and tailor a program that suit’s your pet’s age, condition and lifestyle. If you have any questions about the suitability of vaccinating your pet, our vets would be very happy to discuss all the options available.
To book an appointment, call us on 03 9555 4808 or you can book online.