Vaccination of dogs and cats protects them from infections that may be lethal or cause serious disease. These infectious diseases have not disappeared and even in Australia, where we have good vaccination programmes, there continues to be localised outbreaks. The WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) has devoted considerable time and effort to develop vaccination protocols that increase safety and minimise the already low risks associated with vaccination. WSAVA vaccination guidelines are prepared by internationally recognized experts in small animal microbiology, immunology & vaccinology and are regularly updated based on analysis of the most recent scientific data available.
Based on the latest update of the guidelines, and with the release of a new longer-acting vaccination for cats, Figtree Veterinary Clinic has recently upgraded their vaccination protocol. We have selected this new protocol over older products and protocols to ensure our patients benefit from the latest innovations and knowledge about vaccination.
Vaccination schedules for puppies and kittens take into account potential differences in the age at which the puppy or kitten is able to respond to vaccination. Some puppies or kittens may respond to vaccination at 8 weeks of age, while others are unable to respond until they are 16 weeks or older. Because we don’t know which young animals will respond early and which will respond late, we give a series of vaccinations starting at 8 weeks of age with repeated doses given every 3-4 weeks until they are at least 16 weeks old. We then give another booster at 9 months of age to ‘catch’ the occasional puppy or kitten that may have failed to respond to vaccination, even at 16 weeks of age. Having a checkup at 9 months of age is also beneficial because early warning signs of dental disease, too much weight gain and some behavioural problems can be detected before they become firmly entrenched.
For adult dogs and cats, many vaccines provide a long duration of immunity, and therefore don’t need to be given every year. We have only been vaccinating adult dogs against parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis every 3 years for some time. We now know that cats only require vaccination against panleukopenia every 3 years, and with the release of a new vaccination for cats, we can reduce our frequency of panleukopenia vaccination to every 3 years.
Please note that dogs still require vaccination against canine cough, and cats still require vaccination against cat ‘flu’ (herpesvirus & calicivirus) and feline AIDS every 12 months.
All of these changes will be reflected in our patients’ vaccination records & reminders, which we will continue to keep up to date. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions.
For a very in-depth discussion of the diseases we vaccinate against, why we vaccinate, and the most up-to-date vaccination protocols, see:
WSAVA Owner Breeder Guidelines 14 October 2015