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Vaccinate Early To Keep Pets Healthy
By Lani Jefcoat
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Animals, like humans, need vaccinations to protect them from serious and potentially fatal diseases caused by bacteria and viruses.
Newborn animals receive protection from antibodies in their mothers' milk. To be sure that newborns receive this protection, immunize mothers before breeding.
"Begin vaccinations at 6 weeks to maintain and strengthen disease resistance," said Dr. Cory Langston, associate professor at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. "Continue vaccinations at three week intervals until the animal is 12 to 16 weeks old."
Veterinarians recommend starting the initial set of vaccinations between 6 and 8 weeks because the younger animals are more susceptible to disease and illness.
"Pets are never too old to start vaccinations," Langston said. "If the animal is an unvaccinated adult, it can receive the first set of shots with a follow up three weeks later."
There are separate core vaccinations recommended for puppies and kittens that combine all the needed vaccinations into one, but a rabies vaccination is important for both.
"State law requires vaccinations of dogs and cats for rabies. This is given at 3 months with a booster at 1 year," Langston said. "How often subsequent vaccinations occur ranges from one to three years for rabies, depending on the vaccination used and state requirements. Most other vaccines are typically boosted annually."
The most important shots for a puppy to receive are canine distemper and canine parvovirus. These diseases are highly contagious and can cause permanent damage or death, but they can be prevented with vaccinations.
Protect kittens with a feline leukemia vaccination in addition to the core vaccinations. Cats at the highest risk for feline leukemia are those allowed to roam outdoors or those in a multiple cat household.
"The feline leukemia vaccination is a controversial issue because it is part of the core vaccinations at some clinics while others recommend it only for the high-risk groups," Langston said. "Test all new cats for feline leukemia."
These vaccinations prevent against serious and fatal illnesses and help keep your pet healthy:
- * Feline panleukopenia
- * Feline viral rhinotracheitis
- * Feline Calcivirus
- * Feline Pneumonitis
- * Feline Leukemia
- * Infectious Peritonitis
- * Canine distemper
- * Infectious canine hepatitis
- * Canine Parvovirus
- * Canine Bordetellosis, or kennel cough
- * Canine Parainfluenza
- * Canine Leptospirosis
Contact: Dr. Cory Langston, (601) 325-3432