Puppy & Kitten Vaccines by Dr. Jessica Wilson

Puppies and kittens initially get immunity (protection against disease) from their mother but by 8 weeks of age this protection is starting to decrease and puppies become prone to getting sick as their own immune system matures. This is the time to start vaccines.

Vaccinating your puppy or kitten is very important as there are several diseases that can make your young animal very sick and in rare cases even cause death. Vaccinating them gives your puppy or kitten protection against the bacteria and viruses that cause these diseases. It is very important to continue vaccinating during the period where their own immune system is maturing as they are not fully able to fight off disease. Their last vaccinations should be at or over 16 weeks of age when their immune system is stronger.


The most important or “core” diseases to vaccinate for are distemper virus, adenovirus, parvovirus and parainfluenza virus. These typically all come in one vaccine. Some of these viruses are rare but others like parvovirus we still see regularly and the virus can survive a long time in the environment. Parvovirus causes severe vomiting and diarrhea and without intensive hospitalized treatments young dogs can die. The vaccine is typical abbreviated DAPP and is given to puppies at 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks of age.

Rabies is a very important disease as it is transmissible to people and is fatal in all animals. The Rabies vaccine is given typically at 16 weeks of age at the last puppy vaccine visit.

There are many other optional type vaccinations depending on your dog’s lifestyle and where you live. One of the most common optional vaccines is the Bordetella vaccine. This vaccine protects against some (not all) of the most common viruses and bacteria that cause kennel cough.


The most important or “core” diseases to vaccinate for are feline rhinotracheitis (respiratory infections), feline calicivirus&panleukopenia (feline distemper). These viruses are important for all cats whether indoor or outdoor as these viruses are everywhere and even we can bring these diseases in on our shoes to our indoor cats. This vaccine is abbreviated FRCP and is given to kittens at 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks of age.

Rabies vaccine is also recommended for all cats since Rabies is a fatal disease and can be transmissible to people. Cats are especially prone to Rabies as they are hunters and they can catch their virus from their prey (mice, bats etc). This vaccine is typically given at 16 weeks of age.

Cats that go outside should also have a Feline Leukemia vaccine (FELV vaccine). This disease is transmitted from cat to cat through saliva and secretions. It is a serious disease that some cats will die from. This vaccine is typically given at 12 weeks and 16 weeks of age.

After they are finished their puppy or kitten series of vaccines, pets need to have a check upwhich includes a full physical exam once yearly and the vaccines important for their lifestyle will be boostered as needed. Talk to your veterinarian about which vaccines are appropriate for your new puppy or kitten.

If you have any questions about puppy & kitten vaccines please do not hesitate to contact the team at Mission Ridge Animal Hospital in St. Albert!