Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions
1. What should I expect after my pet has received a vaccine?
It's not uncommon for your pet to experience some of the following side effects:
Facial swelling, lumps / bumps on skin, vomiting and diarrhea, breathing troubles and extreme lethargy:
If you should see any of these potentially life-threatening reactions, immediately call Four Paws Veterinary Center at (925) 829-7297. If after-hours, call the local emergency clinics noted on your Four Paws receipt.
Pain, discomfort, mild fever, diminished appetite and/or activity:
If these reactions are noted, please call Four Paws Veterinary Center for advice or to schedule an appointment as your pet may benefit from medical treatment.
Sometimes a small, firm swelling under the skin may develop at the site of vaccination and should disappear in a couple of weeks. If it continually grows or doesn't go away after one month, contact Four Paws Veterinary Center for an appointment.
2. Which vaccines do you offer, and why does my pet need them?
Vaccines are an important part of any preventative health care plan. Vaccines are designed to safely expose your pet's developing immune system to diseases in which natural exposure (rabies or leptosporosis for example) may result in extreme illness or death to both pet and people alike. Depending on your pet's lifestyle or activities, such as spending time outdoors or frequenting groomer/boarding facilities, certain optional vaccines may become a valid addition to your pet's preventative health care plan due to increased risk of certain contagious diseases inherent to those types of activities. Please refer to either our Care Standards / Canine or Care Standards / Feline pages for more details.
3. How old does my pet need to be to start receiving vaccines?
We generally begin vaccinating puppies and kittens at 8 weeks of age. Please refer to either our Care Standards / Canine or Care Standards / Feline pages for more details.
4. How often does my pet need to be vaccinated?
Depending on the patient and vaccine type, vaccines can be boosted anywhere from every three to four weeks in puppies and kittens to every one to three years in adult dogs and cats. Please refer to either Care Standards / Canine or Care Standards / Feline for more details.
5. How many vaccines does my puppy need before I can take him outside?
We highly recommend waiting until at least 16 weeks of age or after the puppy has received at least two boosters beyond 12 weeks of age. However, we do recommend enrolling puppies in socialization classes prior to 16 weeks of age so as not to miss out on a very vital step in their social development.
6. Why do pets need multiple shots; especially puppies and kittens?
Our ultimate goal of vaccinating is to have the pet's immune system remember the disease for which we are vaccinating them against long-term. This memory is called the Amnestic Response. Generally speaking, the first dose of a vaccine primes the immune system and it's effect is short-lived (4-6 weeks). The second dose, if provided within 3-4 weeks, is what provides your pet the protective immune response (amnestic response). The exception to this rule is the Rabies vaccine which is considered to be highly immunogenic.
Once born, puppies and kittens receive protection against diseases through mother's milk (colostrum) for which the mother was previously vaccinated against. This maternally-derived protection lasts anywhere from 6-10 weeks. Because we cannot easily tell which puppies and kittens are vunerable, we begin vaccinating them at 8 weeks of age using the assumption that we are protecting those puppies and kittens whose protection has been lost.
7. Why are some vaccines good for 1 year while others longer?
This is a complex answer that depends on many things including the disease for which we are hoping to vaccinate against, how it is made, available research demostrating the duration of immunity and local/state legislation. Please be aware that Four Paws Veterinary Center strictly complies with the recommendations set forth by the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association and American Association of Feline Practicioners. Please refer to either our Care Standards / Canine or Care Standards / Feline pages for more details.