It’s National Immunization Awareness Month: What Does That Mean for Your Pet?

As you probably know, vaccines are important for your pet’s health. They protect your dog or cat from common (and not so common) diseases. Some of them are required by law. Rabies vaccines, for example, are legally required.

And while most new pet parents plan for “puppy” shots or “kitten” shots but after that, you might not think about it much. To be expected. Life is busy.

However, August is National Immunization Awareness Month, aka, a great reminder to check your pet’s health records. Are they up to date with their vaccines? Do they need a vet visit? On a related note, August 22 is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day which is another reminder.

What You Can Expect About Immunizations

Your veterinarian will look over your pet’s records and make recommendations at your annual visit based on your dog or cat’s lifestyle, medical history, and local regulations.

They may recommend a booster vs. a full vaccine. A booster shot is when your pet gets less than a full dose of a vaccine. A booster can keep the vaccine effective longer.

There’s a lot of discussion among veterinarians on how often your pet’s need to be vaccinated. Do they need them annually or every three years?

The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommend cats receive the core vaccines every three years. For dogs, the typical recommendation is one to three years. But that’s worth discussing with your vet.

Your pet’s lifestyle matters. Are they primarily inside or outside pets? Do they interact a lot with other animals like regular visits to doggie daycare? How old are they and how healthy?  These all matter as to the vaccination schedule.

There are also “core” and “non-core” immunizations.

“Core” Vaccines vs. “Non-Core” Vaccines

“Core” vaccines are part of the puppy and kitty shot package when they’re young. They’re considered core because they’re dangerous diseases and highly contagious. Pets can even transfer these diseases to people and vice versa.  

“Core” vaccines include:

  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Rhinotracheitis (cats) – It’s an upper respiratory disease
  • Calivirus (cats) – Also a respiratory disease
  • Adenovirus (dogs) – Cold-like symptoms can cause hepatitis
  • Bordatella (parvovirus)

Non-Core Immunizations Include:

  • Feline leukemia
  • Feline infectious peritonitis
  • Chlamydophila
  • Leptospirosis (dogs)
  • Lyme Disease (dogs)
  • Kennel Cough (dogs)

All pets receive the “Core” vaccines when they’re small. If you live in an area with a lot of ticks, it’s probably worth having your dog vaccinated against Lyme on a regular basis. Dogs who attend doggie day care, grooming salons, or boarding facilities usually need the vaccination against kennel cough because it’s highly contagious.

As you can see, there are a lot of different possible vaccines. It’s worth checking your pet’s health records to see what they last received. An annual visit to the vet is always a good idea for a physical check up and you can discuss your dog or cat’s vaccine needs.

What about your pet? Have you had them vaccinated lately?