Dog and Cat Vaccination Schedule, Costs and Info

When you decide to have your dog or cat vaccinated, it’s the least costly and best way to prevent disease. If your pet isn’t vaccinated, they’re left unprotected from exposure to diseases that other animals may be carrying. Plus, you don’t want to be in a situation where your pet is unvaccinated and is bitten or scratched by a wild animal.

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How much does it cost to vaccinate a cat?

The average cost of cat vaccinations can range from $45 to $85 in their first year. Each year after that, the average cost of cat vaccinations can be from $10 to $35..

How much does it cost to vaccinate a dog?

In the first year, vaccination costs for dogs can range from $20 to $150. Every year after that, the average dog vaccination cost can be $10 to $100.

How a Vaccination Works

When your pet is vaccinated, antibodies are produced by their immune system. The job of these antibodies is to fight against bacteria or viruses that cause disease. Vaccines work as a preventive measure, not a cure for the disease. If your pet is already sick, a vaccine isn’t going to help it, in fact, it’s not advised to vaccinate a sick animal. Your pet has to be healthy to build protective antibodies that respond to a vaccine.

Note the term, “core vaccine.” This refers to a vaccine that’s given to all pets in all areas. These vaccines protect against widespread diseases that have severe effects. A non-core vaccine is only needed when a particular disease is in an area or if the disease is going to appear.

Vaccination protection will gradually decline once your pet is vaccinated, so regular booster shots are necessary. The booster shots remind your pet’s immune system that it needs to produce protective antibodies against an attack of disease, virus, or bacteria.

Why to Vaccinate Your Cat

When your cat is a kitten, their mother’s milk will provide immunity temporarily against common feline diseases. Then it’s up to you to provide the needed vaccines to keep your cat healthy. Vaccines depend on which diseases are common in your area, the age, health of your pet, and your lifestyle. For example, if you travel and take your cat along with you, if you board your pet, if you bring another cat home, bring your pet around other people’s cats, or if you let your cat go outside. These are all factors that contribute to vaccine type.

It’s good to keep in mind that just because you keep your cat inside all the time doesn’t mean they’ll be disease-free. If you visit other homes with cats, or go hiking or walking where there are feral cats, you can bring that bacteria home on your shoes and clothing. Vaccinating your cat is the best way to keep them safe.

Standard Vaccines for Cats

There are five primary virus infections that can cause your cat to become ill, and two prevalent bacterial infections. Below is a list of those illnesses and diseases.

Common viruses in cats are:

  1. Feline viral rhinotracheitis: This is an upper respiratory infection that’s difficult to treat and transmitted easily. If your cat gets this infection, they’ll carry the virus for life.
  2. Feline calicivirus: This is another highly infectious respiratory disease, and if your cat recovers, they’ll carry it for the rest of their life. So they can infect unvaccinated cats.
  3. Feline panleukopenia: This virus is also known as feline distemper. It’s highly resistant and can live outside your cat’s body for a year. It’s also highly contagious.
  4. Feline leukemia virus: This virus is also known as FeLV and can result in cancer and other serious health problems. It’s noted as one of the leading causes of death in cats.
  5. Rabies: Rabies can affect your cat just like all other mammals. If your cat isn’t vaccinated and comes in contact with a rabid wild animal, there isn’t a cure.

Common bacterial infections in cats are:

  1. Chlamydophila: This is a bacterial infection which gets in your cat’s eyes and causes conjunctivitis. It can also cause problems in the digestive tract, reproductive tract, and lungs. In young kittens, this disease is very contagious.
  2. Bordetella bacteria: This bacterial infection can cause respiratory disease in a cat. It’s a good idea to get a vaccination for this if you’re planning to board your cat.

Sometimes there may be mild side effects to vaccines for these viruses and bacterial infections. Low-grade fever, loss of appetite, soreness at the injection site. These symptoms usually disappear within two days. If your cat has a severe reaction, it will happen within minutes of the shot and will require immediate vet care. Symptoms could include diarrhea, facial swelling, vomiting and difficulty breathing. Sometimes a cat may develop a tumor at the injection site months or years after the injection. If you see this, talk to your vet about it.

How often do I need to vaccinate my dog?

Some pet owners decide not to vaccinate their dogs because of cost and possible safety issues. This concept is misguided though, and you need to follow the advice of your veterinarian when deciding what preventive vaccines your pet needs.

Just like with cats, when your dog is a puppy, at birth and a few weeks after, they received immunity by placental transfer and their mother’s milk. How much protection your puppy receives depends on their mother’s immune status and what kind of condition they’re in when born. Antibodies will keep your puppy protected anywhere from six to twelve weeks. When your pet is six weeks, they’ll need to be vaccinated. It needs to be repeated every two to four weeks until your pet reaches sixteen weeks.

Then your dog should be vaccinated at regular times throughout their life. Your veterinarian will set up those intervals and make the decision about when it’s necessary, depending on your dog’s lifestyle. If your dog frequently associates with other dogs, such as in dog parks or groomers, your vet will want to give them more frequent boosters. If your dog is not overly social and spends a lot of time in the yard or at home, they may not need them as frequently.

Standard Vaccines for Dogs

There are conventional vaccines that all dogs need to have. All dogs should have vaccinations against core diseases that are known to be highly contagious. These diseases can cause serious illness in your pet, or even death. Here are the core vaccines:

  1. Rabies: The vaccine for rabies is required by law in most states. Rabies can be transmitted from a wild animal, to your dog, to you. Once symptoms develop, the disease isn’t treatable. People and dogs who have been exposed to a rabid animal are quarantined for a period of designated time to see if symptoms develop.
  2. Canine distemper: This disease is incurable and can cause seizures and even death.
  3. Canine parvovirus: This virus causes cardiac issues or severe intestinal issues which can lead to death.
  4. Canine adenovirus (CAV-2): This vaccine prevents your pet from getting infectious hepatitis.

If you have a small dog, under 20 pounds, you might want to ask your veterinarian to only give them the core vaccines in one visit. This is to prevent the possibility of anaphylactic shock or swelling of the face or ears.

If you live in an area with a high rate of a certain disease, Lyme disease for example, your vet may want to administer a vaccine for that disease as a core vaccine.

Vaccinations can have common side effects such as a fever, swelling or soreness at the site of the shot, coughing and sneezing and decreased appetite.

Once in a while, a dog will have an allergic reaction. A reaction will occur minutes after the vaccine is administered. The reaction may be the swelling of the muzzle, face, and eyes, hives, and difficulty in breathing. Since this would be a medical emergency, you should seek veterinary care immediately. However, allergic reactions are rare.

For more information, visit: American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccine Guidelines

Keeping your pets vaccinated is an essential part of your pet’s health. By keeping their shots up to date, it will keep them safe and healthy, and save you in vet bills in the long run.

Treating and Preventing Dental Disease in Cats and Dogs

The treatment of dental disease in cats and dogs involves a thorough dental cleaning. X-rays may be needed to determine the severity of the disease. Your veterinarian or a veterinary dentist will make recommendations based on your pet’s overall health and the health of your pet’s teeth, and provide you with options to consider.  When you go to the dentist, you know that what’s being done is meant to help you and keep your mouth healthy. Your dentist uses techniques to minimize pain and discomfort and can ask you how you are feeling, so you accept the procedures and do your best to keep still. Your pet does not understand the benefit of dental procedures, and it reacts by moving, trying to escape, or even biting.  Anesthesia makes it possible to perform the dental procedures with less stress and pain for your pet. In addition, anesthesia allows for a better cleaning because your pet is not moving around and risking injury from the dental equipment. If x-rays are needed, your pet needs to be very still in order to get good images, and this is unlikely without heavy sedation or anesthesia. Although anesthesia will always have risks, it’s safer now than ever and continues to improve so that the risks are very low and are far outweighed by the benefits. Most pets can go home the same day of the procedure, although they might seem a little groggy for the rest of the day.

Prevention of the most common oral disease in pets consists of frequent removal of the dental plaque and tartar that forms on teeth. Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings and may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for periodic dental cleaning by your veterinarian. Daily brushing is best, but it’s not always possible, so brushing several times a week can be effective. Most dogs accept brushing, but cats can be a bit more resistant – patience and training are important.

There are many pet products marketed with claims that they improve dental health, but not all of them are effective. Chlorhexidine oral rinse is the most effective anti-plaque antiseptic. Chlorhexidine binds to the oral tissues and tooth surfaces and is gradually released into the oral cavity. It is safe for pets and rarely causes problems, though it does have a bitter taste if palatability enhancers suitable for dogs are not included. Some dogs may object to the taste of products containing chlorhexidine while others accept it with no difficulty. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) has listed numerous products that have earned the VOHC Seal of Acceptance in dentifrice products.  

It behooves pet owners to pay close attention to the oral health of their pets, both from the standpoint of the health and well-being of the pet and the cost for maintaining a healthy pet.  The best source of information is your animal hospital for a dental checkup at least once per year. A comprehensive oral examination can eliminate gum disease, malformed teeth that causes pain and discomfort to the animal, oral cancers that can be removed if caught in time, and many other possible conditions that are detrimental to the health of your family pet.  Although you may see advertisement to the contrary, general anesthesia is usually necessary for a complete and thorough oral examination by your veterinarian. The plaque that accumulates below the gum line is the culprit in periodontal disease and it can only be properly diagnosed and treated while the dog or cat is under general anesthesia.

Pet Dental Health Month is the perfect time to find a veterinary dentist here. 

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