Dogs and cats alike can start getting vaccines at 6 to 8 weeks of age, according to Vega, with booster vaccines recommended every three to four weeks until the pet reaches the age of 16 weeks. The American Animal Hospital Association has developed dog and cat vaccination guidelines, separated into core and non-core vaccines. Dan Watson/The Signal

Vets: Vaccines important to keep pets healthy

By Michelle Sathe and Vivianna Shields
Signal Staff Writer

In light of the rabid bats outbreak in the Santa Clarita area, the urgency has increased to vaccinate your pets, and keeping your pets’ vaccinations up to date is crucial for protecting and preventing further outbreaks, veterinarians say. 

“Vaccines are important because they protect your pet from acquiring certain diseases, some of which can be fatal,” said Dr. Evelyn Vega, veterinarian and owner of Happy Pets Veterinary Center in Valencia.

Dogs and cats alike can start getting vaccines at 6 to 8 weeks of age, according to Vega, with booster vaccines recommended every three to four weeks until the pet reaches the age of 16 weeks.

“Vaccines are done this way as both puppies and kittens receive passive immunity from their mothers via colostrum. This passive immunity protects them from acquiring certain diseases,” Vega said. “That immunity starts to slowly disappear between 6 to 16 weeks of age. Therefore, it is during this time we vaccinate in order to build up individual immunity.”

The American Animal Hospital Association has developed dog and cat vaccination guidelines, separated into core and non-core vaccines. 

Core vaccines include those every dog and cat should receive, such as rabies. A non-core vaccine, such as the rattlesnake vaccine, is given based on lifestyle or environment. On average, core pet vaccines can range from $10 to $28 per dose while non-core vaccines are more expensive.

The distemper/parvovirus vaccine and FVRCP is usually one of the first core vaccines given to pets. A rabies vaccine is required by law to be updated every three years.

Carl Shilvock, manager at Saugus Animal Hospital, said that when a puppy receives their first rabies shot they need to receive a booster one year later. After that, they are due for a rabies booster every three years. 

“If an owner brings in a dog that was attacked or bitten by a wild animal, I always vaccinate them with the rabies vaccine just in case,” said Dr. Laura Ekman, veterinarian at Saugus Animal Hospital. 

If an adult pet’s vaccine history is unknown,  they will be vaccinated with the first shot, and expected to come back a year later for the booster and triannually after, Shilvock said. 

“Vaccinations prevent pets from not only getting diseases, but also from spreading them to other animals or potentially to humans,” said Ekman.

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