Protect your pet with vaccines

Not every shot is right for all animals: Learn which ones are important for your dog or cat and which ones you can skip.

Vaccinating your pet is the best way to keep it healthy: After your puppy or kitten is weaned from its mother and stops receiving her milk, it starts to lose antibodies that protect it from disease. Your pet should have a series of "core" vaccines for diseases such as distemper in dogs and calicivirus in cats, when it's young. Core vaccines may be given in a series of shots, which are administered every few weeks between six weeks and four months in age, with boosters every one to three years. Because all animals are different, talk to your vet about which vaccines your pet needs, and here's a list of shots he or she might recommend. 

Dogs

  • Rabies (Your puppy will receive its first vaccination at three or four months old. Check with your vet to see how often it needs booster shots: It's usually every one to three years, depending on the vaccine's manufacturer and the animal's vaccine history.)
  • Distemper
  • Hepatitis
  • Parvovirus
  • Parainfluenza

Optional shots:

  • Bordetella (kennel cough) (This cold-like disease is transmitted through contact with an infected animal's mouth or nose. It's usually spread in areas where several dogs congregate, like kennels, so if you board your animal or take it to the groomer, consider this vaccine.)
  • Lyme Disease (If your dog spends a lot of time in wooded areas, where ticks live, you might consider vaccinating against this tick-borne disease.)
  • Leptospirosis (If you live in a city or take your dog to the park often, consider vaccinating against this disease, which is spread through contaminated rodent waste.)

Cats

  • Rabies (Your kitten will receive its first vaccination at three or four months old. Check with your vet to see how often it needs booster shots: It's usually every one to three years, depending on the vaccine's manufacturer and the animal's vaccine history.)
  • Panleukopenia (feline distemper)
  • Calicivirus
  • Rhinotracheitis (feline herpes)

Optional shots:

  • Feline Leukemia Virus (This virus is spread through bites, bodily fluids and mother-to-kitten contact. Consider vaccinating your pet if it spends a lot of time outside, at the kennel or the groomer, where it might be around infected cats.)
  • Chlamydia (This disease is spread through the respiratory system. The vaccine won't entirely protect from infection, but your cat might have less severe symptoms if it does get the disease.)