What Shots Does My Pet Need?

July 29, 2022

Deciding to get a new pet can be exciting and a tad overwhelming. What type of kennel should you get? How big does it need to be? What kind of cat food is best? Do you need a leash or a harness? What vet should I take my pet to? As the list of questions grows, it is essential to put vaccinations at the top. What are vaccinations? Which ones do they need? And why? Simply put, vaccinations help prevent many illnesses that affect pets. In addition, it is one of the easiest ways to ensure your pet lives a long and healthy life!

Why Are Pet Vaccinations Important?

Vaccinations are critical in safeguarding your pet from several dangerous and deadly diseases. Vaccines help prepare the body's immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. Simply put, the vaccine gives your four-legged friend a leg up on fighting off illnesses. Vaccines for pets work the same way they do for you and me! Suppose your pet is ever exposed to the actual disease. In that case, his immune system is now prepared to identify and fight it off entirely or reduce the seriousness of the illness. Most vets will recommend getting the core vaccines to keep your pet healthy.

Once you have chosen the right veterinarian for your pet, you will want to discuss when and how frequently they recommend getting the vaccinations. Most puppies will start their vaccinations starting around six weeks old. The veterinarian will administer the shots in three to four-week intervals. The last vaccine will be given when your puppy is sixteen weeks old. Kittens will follow a similar pattern. After the initial puppy vaccines, your dog will need an annual booster. Routine booster shots are vital to keeping vaccine levels high enough in your pet to protect her over time.

The core vaccines are those that, over time, veterinarians and researchers have determined to be the most important in preventing severe illness and disease in dogs and cats. For dogs, the core vaccines are parvo, distemper, canine hepatitis, rabies for cats, feline distemper, feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus I, and rabies. So, again, these would be considered the core vaccines. However, some animals may need additional vaccines due to their age, environment, lifestyle, and medical history.

Veterinarian holding syringe with vaccine

What Core Pet Vaccinations Are Recommended?

There is so much information available about different vaccinations for countless illnesses that it can sometimes be unclear to know which vaccinations puppies or kittens need. Which ones are necessary? Which ones are optional? While we have tried our best to include all of the standard vaccinations that a pet might need in this list, it is crucial to work with a veterinary to determine which are the right fit for your pet.


Parvo is a very contagious virus that affects all dogs. Still, unvaccinated dogs and puppies less than four months of age are at the most jeopardy of contracting it. The virus attacks the gastrointestinal system and creates a loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, and often severe, bloody diarrhea. Extreme dehydration can come on rapidly and kill a dog within 48-to-72 hours, so quick veterinary attention is essential. Unfortunately, there is no cure, so keeping the dog hydrated and controlling the secondary symptoms can keep him going until his immune system beats the illness.


The severe and transmittable disease is caused by a virus that attacks dogs' respiratory, gastrointestinal (GI), and nervous systems. Distemper spreads through sneezing or coughing. The virus can also be transmitted by shared food and water bowls. It causes discharges from the eyes and nose, fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, twitching, paralysis, and death.


Infectious canine hepatitis is a highly infectious virus that affects the dog's liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and eyes. Symptoms range from a slight fever and congestion of the mucous membranes to vomiting, jaundice, stomach enlargement, and pain around the liver. Many dogs can survive the mild form of the disease, but the severe form can kill.

Veterinarian giving injection to dog in clinic


Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system, causing headaches, anxiety, hallucinations, excessive drooling, fear of water, paralysis, and death. It is most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Therefore, treatment within hours of infection is crucial. Otherwise, death is highly likely. Therefore, rabies vaccinations are required in most states, including Oklahoma. This is also one of the shots that must be readministered every three years for adult dogs to be protected.

While these are the "core" vaccinations that most veterinarians will recommend, there are some optional vaccines that you should discuss with your vet. Some canine vaccinations should only be administered depending on age, medical history, environment, travel habits, and lifestyle. Non-core vaccines are optional vaccines that should be considered depending on your animal's risk. Talking to your vet will give you peace of mind that you have gotten your puppy all the vaccines he will need to stay healthy!

What Are the Risks of Pet Vaccinations?

With any vaccine, there is a risk over time. The vaccines given to puppies and kittens have been perfected, and the side effects are minimal for most animals. In most cases, the risks are much smaller than the possibilities of the disease itself. Many pets show no adverse effects from vaccination; if there is a vaccine reaction, it is insignificant and short-lived.

For the vaccine to work correctly, it should stimulate the animal's immune system, which can cause some mild symptoms. That said, it is critical to recognize that vaccines have saved countless lives and play a vital role in the battle against infectious diseases.

Your pet deserves every chance to be healthy and happy for life, and vaccinations play an essential role. Remember, staying current with the recommended vaccine schedule is also important. Your puppy or kitten will not be fully protected from the diseases until it has received all of the vaccines throughout the sixteen-eighteen-week timeframe.

How Can Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital Help?

Once you have chosen the perfect pet, Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital has trained physicians to explain your vaccine options and help you understand exactly what you need! If you are looking for the best care for your new four-legged companion, the crew at Advanced Care is here to provide your animal with knowledge and kindness. No matter what type of pet needs you to have, Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital doctors are ready and waiting to serve you and your pet!