Vaccinations

Kitten vaccinations

All kittens should begin the feline distemper {RCPC) series vaccine at 6 to 8 weeks of age.  They should receive a booster vaccine every 3 to 4 weeks until they are between 14 and 17 weeks of age.  Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) vaccines are also recommended for indoor/outdoor cats or cats with direct exposure to other cats that may carry FeLV.  According to state law, the initial 1-year rabies vaccination should be administered at 13 weeks of age.  Feline bordetella vaccines are also an option after 10 weeks of age.

Adult cat vaccinations

At Kinzua Veterinary Clinic, we recommend adult cats receive am RCPC booster 1 year after the initial series and then every 3 years.  General immunity to the viruses in this vaccine increases with age.  We usually recommend a 5-year interval between booster vaccines after the age of 10 and often times no more boosters after the age of 15.  Rabies vaccines should be boostered 1 year after the initial vaccine, then every 3 years thereafter.  Cats receiving FeLV vaccines initially receive boosters yearly, then every other year when they are older.  Feline bordetella vaccines may be boostered annually.  We often tailor recommendations based specifically on the age, health, risk of exposure, and prior vaccine history of the individual pet.

Puppy vaccinations

All puppies should begin the canine distemper (DHPP) series vaccine at 6 to 8 weeks of age.  They should receive a booster vaccine every 3 to 4 weeks until they are between 14 and 17 weeks of age.  Lyme disease vaccines are also recommended for dogs at risk of exposure to deer ticks.  In our area, this risk increases tremendously in McKean and Elk counties.  Canine bordetella vaccines are also an option after 10 weeks of age.  According to state law, the initial 1-year rabies vaccination should be administered at 13 weeks of age.

Adult dogs

At Kinzua Veterinary Clinic, we recommend adult dogs receive a DHPP booster 1 year after the initial series and then every 3 years.  General immunity to the viruses in this vaccine increases with age.  In well vaccinated dogs, we usually do not recommend booster vaccines after the age of 10. Rabies vaccines should be boostered 1 year after the initial vaccine, then every 3 years thereafter.  Lyme disease vaccines require an annual booster in order to maintain protective immunity.  Canine bordetella vaccines may be boostered annually.  We often tailor recommendations based specifically on the age, health, risk of exposure, and prior vaccine history of the individual pet.

Vaccine Safety

Although vaccines have played a very important role in the reduction of mortality and morbidity from many different infections, vaccines are not free of potential side effects.  Common mild side effects may include lethargy, transient fever, and pain or swelling at the site of injection.  More severe but less common side effects may include facial swelling/itching, vomiting, diarrhea, anaphylaxis, and IMHA.  As your pet's doctor, we take these potential side effects very seriously.  We feel that it is very important to give the minimum number of vaccines administered at the proper times in order to protect your pet from the infections it may be exposed to.  In the case of pets that have had reactions, we may recommend pre-medicating with antihistamines or corticosteroids and in some cases, discontinuing the vaccine in question.  We also recommend when feasible not administering multiple injectable vaccines on the same day to very small animals.  Some vaccines are available in oral or intranasal formulations that may have lower risk for some of the side effects of the injectable vaccines.  Please feel free to discuss your concerns with the doctor so we can formulate the best possible vaccination protocol for your special companion.

GI parasites

 It is also important to have your puppy or kitten tested for intestinal parasites. Bring a stool sample with you so your vet can check the sample under a microscope for parasite eggs. Parasites can stunt the growth of your puppy or kitten, make them more susceptible to acquiring infections, and even kill them. De-worming your puppy or kitten is a safe and effective way of protecting them from the harmful effects of intestinal parasites.  Fecal examination for parasite eggs is recommended yearly and often during episodes of vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes even with coughing.  Fecal exams are not always positive for every infected individual.  Sometimes prophylactic de-worming may be recommended by your pet's doctor.