Complete Vaccination Schedule for Pets

Did you know that unvaccinated dogs face a 91% mortality rate risk from infectious diseases?

Infectious diseases are common in pets, often leading to sickness and even death; timely vaccination is the only way to prevent the unavoidable!

A complete pet vaccination schedule must include core and non-core vaccinations, such as DHPP, Rabies, Bordetella, Leptospirosis, Lyme disease, Canine Influenza for dogs, and FVRCP, Rabies, Feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus for cats.

Find the complete vaccination list with the time and dosage to protect your dogs and cats. 

History and Importance of Vaccinations

Vaccinations safeguard your pets’ health by stimulating their immune systems to fight common illnesses. 

Microbes exist in the environment, other animals, or even the air, causing life-threatening diseases in pets, such as distemper, parvovirus, and heartworm.

The history of pet vaccinations dates back to 1879, when Louis Pasteur developed the chicken cholera vaccine. Following the invention, he also created anthrax in 1881 and rabies vaccine in 1885. 

This groundbreaking work paved the way for veterinary vaccinations. 

Over time, advancements led to vaccines for various illnesses like distemper, parvovirus, and more in the 1920s. 

Today, pet vaccinations are a standard and vital part of preventive healthcare, safeguarding pets from serious diseases.

Vaccinating your pets protects them from contracting infectious diseases, which can cost their lives.

Moreover, it will protect against the viral spread of diseases, including zoonotic diseases, keeping pets and humans safe and requiring you to follow a strict vaccination schedule.

Factors Influencing Pet Vaccination

While the core vaccinations are necessary for all dogs and cats, several factors can influence vaccination decisions, including:

1. Pet’s Age

Puppies and kittens have developing immune systems, making them more vulnerable to diseases. This is why they require a series of initial vaccinations. 

Younger pups should get vaccinations at around 6-8 weeks of age. Boosters are administered every 2-4 weeks until the puppy is about 16 weeks old.

However, adult and older pets may have different needs and require less frequent boosters.

2. Lifestyle

Spending much time outdoors and interacting with other animals increases the risk of disease exposure, adding to the need for vaccinations.

Indoor pets may require fewer vaccines than outdoor ones. Moreover, vaccination needs vary by age, health, and legal requirements.

Therefore, consider your pet’s lifestyle before administering shots.

3. Geographic Location

The prevalence of certain diseases can vary by region. For example, Lyme diseases are prevalent in wooded and bushy areas.

Check with your city and local veterinarians to assess the conditions common in your area and appropriate vaccinations. 

4. Health Status

Regular vet checkups ensure the right vaccines at the right time. However, monitoring health status before giving a vaccine is compulsory. 

You should check with the veterinarian to decide the following things before adjusting the vaccination schedule.

  • Immune system strength. 
  • Previous vaccination history. 
  • Allergies/sensitivities. 
  • Lifestyle factors, such as outdoor exposure.

5. Legal Requirements

It is important to note that vaccination requirements can vary by location. 

Different cities, states, or countries may have their own rules regarding the requirement and administration of vaccines. 

Pet owners must be aware of and comply with the specific regulations in their area.

Core Vaccinations for Dogs

Core dog vaccinations are essential because they protect against rapidly spreading and potentially life-threatening diseases.

For example, the DHPP vaccine prevents distemper, a virus that can have a mortality rate of up to 50% in dogs. 

Here are the essential core vaccinations for dogs.

  1. Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus (DHPP)

The DHPP vaccine is one of the most critical dog vaccinations known as the puppy shot.

It protects against highly contagious and fatal diseases like distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus. 

Puppies should receive DHPP shots to build their immunity and get regular boosters.

Diseases DHPP Vaccine Covers

  • Distemper: It is a highly communicable viral disease that impacts various organ systems, including the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. Distemper can be life-threatening, especially in puppies.
  • Hepatitis (Adenovirus-1 and 2): It is a canine infectious hepatitis caused by adenovirus-1, which can damage the liver and lead to fatal illness, including liver failure. The vaccine also provides cross-protection against adenovirus-2.
  • Parvovirus: It is an infectious virus that leads to severe and often fatal gastrointestinal symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. Puppies are highly vulnerable to parvovirus and can die.

Timing and Dosage of DHPP

  • 6-8 Weeks: First dose
  • 10-12 Weeks: Second dose
  • 14-16 Weeks: Third dose
  • 1 Year (12 Months): Booster
  • Boosters: Every 1-3 years, depending on your vet’s recommendations.

    2. Rabies Vaccination

Rabies is a deadly disease among pets. Once symptoms appear, it is almost 100% fatal

Early signs may include behavioral changes, such as increased aggression or agitation, followed by paralysis and eventually death.

Rabies virus attacks the nervous system, spreading through the saliva of an infected host, often via a bite.

The dose of rabies vaccination varies with the law. However, puppies must get an initial vaccine around 12-16 weeks. 

After the initial shot, provide boosters every year to maintain safety. 

Timing and Dosage of Rabies

  • 12-16 Weeks: First dose
  • 1 Year (12 Months): Booster
  • Boosters: Every 1-3 years, depending on local laws and vaccine type.

Non-Core Vaccinations

Non-core vaccinations are not essential for every dog; however, the need varies depending on the dog’s location, lifestyle, and specific risk factors.

For example, if a dog lives in an area with a high prevalence of a particular disease, a non-core vaccine for that disease is vital.

Here are some common non-core vaccines for dogs.

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (Kennel Cough) Vaccine: This vaccine safeguards against kennel cough, a deadly respiratory disease common among dogs in boarding facilities, dog parks, or other places with close dog-to-dog contact.
  • Leptospirosis Vaccine: Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease affecting dogs and humans. Dogs in areas with a higher risk of exposure, especially those near water sources where the bacteria may thrive, are at risk.
  • Lyme disease Vaccine: Recommended for dogs in regions with a high prevalence of Lyme disease, usually where ticks are common. It helps prevent this tick-borne illness.
  • Canine Influenza (H3N2 and H3N8) Vaccine: Necessary for dogs in areas experiencing outbreaks of canine influenza, a contagious respiratory virus, essential in boarding facilities or places with a high virus incidence.
  • Canine Coronavirus Vaccine: Protects against a type of gastrointestinal infection caused by the canine coronavirus, common in kennels and crowded areas.
  • Rattlesnake Vaccine: Essential in regions with venomous snakes. This vaccine aims to reduce the severity of rattlesnake bites in dogs.
  • Canine Giardia Vaccine: Giardia is a parasite that can cause gastrointestinal problems in dogs. The vaccine may be essential in areas where Giardia is prevalent.

Please consult your veterinarian before deciding on the necessary non-core vaccines.

Core Vaccinations for Cats

Core vaccinations are essential for cats because they protect against widespread, highly contagious, and potentially fatal diseases.

For example, the FVRCP vaccine boosts the immunity of kittens by 90%.

Here are the essential core vaccinations for cats.

  1. Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia (FVRCP)

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR) can cause the death of kitties by developing pneumonia.

The FVRCP vaccine protects cats from viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia. 

These illnesses can lead to respiratory and gastrointestinal problems, leading to death.

Kittens should receive a series of shots to establish immunity, followed by regular boosters to be safe.

Diseases FVRCP Vaccine Covers

  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR): This vaccine guards against feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1), a highly transmissible virus that causes upper respiratory tract infections in cats. FVR can lead to symptoms like sneezing, nasal discharge, and eye problems.
  • Feline Calicivirus (FCV): The FCV vaccine protects against another common cause of respiratory infections in cats, feline calicivirus. Calicivirus can lead to symptoms like fever, oral ulcers, and respiratory issues.
  • Feline Panleukopenia (FP): Feline Panleukopenia is a highly communicable and potentially deadly viral cat disease. Feline panleukopenia affects the gastrointestinal tract and can lead to severe vomiting and diarrhea.

Timing and Dosage of FVRCP

  • 8-9 Weeks: First dose
  • 12-13 Weeks: Second dose
  • 16 Weeks: Third dose
  • 1 Year (12 Months): Booster
  • Boosters: Every 1-3 years, depending on your vet’s recommendations.

    2. Rabies Vaccination

Rabies is not just a concern for dogs but cats too; it is a zoonotic disease that transmits from animals to humans. 

Like dogs, the initial vaccine is administered to kittens, followed by regular boosters.

Timing and Dosage of Rabies

  • 12-16 Weeks: First dose
  • 1 Year (12 Months): Booster
  • Boosters: Every 1-3 years, depending on local laws and vaccine type.

Non-Core Vaccinations

Non-core vaccines for cats are typically recommended based on their risk factors. 

Here are some common non-core vaccines for cats.

  • Feline Leukemia (FeLV) Vaccine: FeLV is a contagious and potentially fatal viral cat disease. This vaccine is for cats that go outdoors or come into contact with other cats of unknown FeLV status.
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) Vaccine: FIV is similar to HIV in humans and weakens a cat’s immune system. This vaccine is vital for at-risk cats, especially those with outdoor access.
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica Vaccine: It protects against respiratory infections caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica. It can be a concern for cats in multi-cat environments or boarding facilities.
  • Chlamydia Vaccine: Chlamydia can cause conjunctivitis (eye infection) in cats. The vaccine is essential for cats in areas where this disease is prevalent or in multi-cat households where it prevails.
  • Ringworm Vaccine: Ringworm is a fungal infection that can affect cats. The vaccine is not very common but is vital during ringworm outbreaks.

However, occasionally consult your vet to determine if your cat requires non-core vaccines.


Ensuring your pets’ health requires a complete vaccination plan, securing your furry companions’ well-being and a disease-free, long life.

While core shots guard against common and dangerous diseases, non-core vaccines save from occasional risks. 

Contact Urban Pet Hospital, the best pet hospital in Urbandale, for proper guidance from our expert veterinarian.

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