We follow the WSAVA international guidelines tailored to the risks locally.
As a general rule, all dogs, cats, and rabbits should be vaccinated, anti-vaccination lobby notwithstanding.
For cats and dogs the ideal start in life consists of a vaccine at 8-10 weeks of age, a second vaccine 2-4 weeks later, a third vaccine at 16 weeks if the second vaccine is under 14 weeks, and a booster sometime between 6 and 15 months. This does not mean that they cannot go out before vaccination – they can in controlled conditions. See Points about A3 Socialisation, or listen to the podcast.
The reasons for this relatively complicated series include the problem that about 1 in 20 will not be fully vaccinated by having a second vaccination at 10 weeks of age. At 12 weeks it is about 1 in 25. At 16 weeks, the protection is as good as you can get.
No vaccine is 100% effective.
Some animals have very limited or no ability to mount a vaccine response.
Annual check-ups are advisable. Annual vaccination (after the first booster) is best discussed individually at the annual check-up. Leptospirosis and kennel cough for dogs and Herpes/Calici (cat ‘flu’) vaccines for cats need to be given every year, most of the rest every three years, if at all. Blood tests to assess protection levels are available. Rabies is every three years.
Indoor-only cats do need to be vaccinated. If no other time they will mix with other cats when they come in to be neutered, and over a lifetime most will be exposed and have no protection unless vaccinated.
Rabbits are straightforward. One vaccination for VHD & Myxo at 12 weeks and repeat annually.
For more on this topic, see our Podcast, or ask any of our clinical staff.