When Should My Cat or Dog Get Vaccinated?


Owning a fur baby is a big responsibility and if you are a first-time pet owner there is so much information to know about what, who, when, and how to get yourself acquainted as a new owner. One of the most important aspects of owning a pet is understanding what you need to do in order to protect them from infectious diseases and illnesses. Just as humans require vaccinations shortly after birth, so do the animals living in your home. Vaccinations are essential to not only the long-term well-being but also create less risk of the other pets your dog may come into contact with. The good news is that technology has advanced to help protect and prevent your animal from infectious harm.

Nonetheless, there are many different types of vaccinations that your animal should have to remain healthy versus what may be needed for their lifestyle. Therefore, it is best to consult a veterinarian to be sure that your pet needs each vaccination and when they may need it. Your veterinarian will likely send you reminders when vaccinations are due but in the meantime, if you are interested in the timeline and most required vaccinations as a pup take a look below! 

Timing and Criteria For Dog Vaccinations

For puppies, vaccinations should always be given early on so that they are protected at a young age from diseases and infections. 

At the age of 6-8 weeks, puppies should receive vaccinations for the following diseases: distemper, measles, and parainfluenza.

When the puppies are 10-12 weeks old they should receive the DHPP vaccination that further protects against distemper and parainfluenza but also covers hepatitis and parvo. After this, DHPP is needed every 3 weeks until they are 16 weeks old.

Then, the DHPP booster is administered one year after their first vaccination at 16 weeks and then once every 3 years.

Your dog's records with your primary veterinarian will help keep track of this so that you know your dog is up to date on their vaccinations and in good shape.

Rabies vaccines are not mandatory in all states but do protect your dog from contracting it from wild animals. If you wish, you can give your dog a rabies vaccination anywhere from 3 to 6 months old and renewed every 3 years.

The core vaccinations that you want to ensure your pup receives every 3 years because they are hard to treat against, could prove fatal, and could reach epidemic levels are the following:

  • Canine distemper
  • Canine parvovirus
  • Canine adenovirus 1 infection

The non-core vaccinations are up to you to vaccinate against and should be under the advisement of your veterinarian are the following:

  • Canine influenza
  • Canine cough complex
  • Lyme disease
  • Leptospirosis

Timing and Criteria For Cat Vaccinations

Kittens also require vaccinations early on in life to prevent and protect against viral infections and diseases.

Your kitten should receive the FVRCP vaccine at 8 weeks to protect against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia.

Your kitten will receive a follow-up of the FVRCP booster and the vaccine for FELV or feline leukemia virus at 12 weeks.

One more follow-up on vaccines including FVRCP booster, FELV booster, and rabies is needed at 16 weeks for your kitten.

The FVRCP booster should be administered one year after the last booster and regularly for 3 years after the initial ones are completed. On the same token, the FeLV booster should be given one year after the last booster and then on an annual basis for cats who are at risk to contract.

Just like dogs, cat rabies vaccinations are not mandatory in all states so it is up to you to administer. These should be given no earlier than 16 weeks and should be provided again after a year and needed every 3 years. 

The core vaccinations for adults are covered by the FVRCP booster which, as mentioned previously, should be given every 3 years.

Non-core vaccinations consist of the following if your cat is more prone to contracting these diseases or illnesses and should be veterinarian recommended:

  • Feline leukemia virus
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica