How Often Should Your Pet Be Vaccinated? The Complete Guide to Vaccination Schedules

As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to keep your furry friends healthy and free from dangerous diseases. One of the best ways to do this is by ensuring they receive the proper vaccinations. But how often should your pet be vaccinated? This comprehensive guide will walk you through the various vaccination schedules for puppies, kittens, adult dogs, and adult cats. We will also cover the important distinction between core and non-core vaccines and delve into some related topics such as veterinary dentistry and dental surgery, boarding for pets, and pet vaccinations’ connection to parasite prevention.

Understanding Core and Non-Core Vaccines

Yearly cat vaccinations is important not only to protect against various diseases but can also play a role in preventing specific conditions caused by parasites. For example, the leptospirosis vaccine can provide protection against the bacteria that may cause a hair loss condition that can occur in pets. Discussing with your veterinarian the potential benefits of certain vaccinations in parasite prevention will enable you to make informed decisions about your pet’s health.

Before diving into the specific vaccination schedules for each type of pet, it’s essential to understand the difference between core and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are those that every pet should receive, regardless of their lifestyle or location. These vaccines protect against life-threatening diseases that are highly contagious or prevalent. Some examples of core vaccines for dogs include the rabies and parvovirus vaccines, while for cats, rabies and feline leukemia vaccines are considered core.

Non-core vaccines, on the other hand, are optional and may be recommended by your veterinarian based on factors such as your pet’s lifestyle, geographical location, and the likelihood of exposure to certain diseases. Examples of non-core vaccines include the Lyme disease vaccine for dogs and the feline immunodeficiency virus vaccine for cats.

Puppy Vaccination Schedule

When it comes to puppies, their vaccination schedule kicks off pretty early in life. Typically, the first vaccines are administered between 6 to 8 weeks of age. This is followed by a series of booster shots to ensure the pup has adequate immunity against diseases. The boosters are usually given every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is about 16 weeks old.

The core vaccines puppies should receive include rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and adenovirus vaccines. Non-core vaccines for puppies may include canine influenza, Lyme disease, and Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccines. It’s important to work with your veterinarian to determine which non-core vaccines are appropriate for your pup. Keep in mind that vaccinating a young puppy might come with risks and benefits, so it’s crucial to ensure the benefits outweigh the risks for your furry friend.

Kitten Vaccination Schedule

Similar to puppies, kittens also start their vaccination journey at an early age. The first vaccines are usually given when they’re around 6 to 8 weeks old. Booster shots generally follow every 3 to 4 weeks until the kitten reaches 16 weeks of age.

Core vaccines for kittens include rabies, feline panleukopenia, feline calicivirus, and feline herpesvirus vaccines. Meanwhile, non-core vaccines might consist of feline leukemia and chlamydia vaccines. The risks and benefits of vaccinating a young kitten should also be weighed before making any decisions.

Adult Dog Vaccination Schedule

Once your dog has grown into adulthood, their vaccination schedule will change. While core vaccines like the rabies vaccine are still a necessity, the timeframe between booster shots tends to be longer. Generally, adult dogs require booster shots for core vaccines every three years. Non-core vaccines, such as the Bordetella and leptospirosis vaccines, might be given annually, depending on your dog’s lifestyle and risk factors.

Adult Cat Vaccination Schedule

For adult cats, core vaccines like rabies and feline leukemia vaccines should be administered every one to three years, depending on your veterinarian’s recommendation. Non-core vaccines, like the feline immunodeficiency virus vaccine, might also be given based on your cat’s risk factors and lifestyle.

Other Vet Services

Veterinary Dentistry and Dental Surgery

It’s essential to consider other aspects of your pet’s health in addition to vaccinations. For instance, dental health plays a significant role in your pet’s overall well-being. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can prevent periodontal disease, tooth loss, and other complications. While scheduling your pet’s visit to the small animal veterinary dentistry expert, make sure to discuss their dental health with your veterinarian and inquire about possible dental procedures they recommend, such as cleanings or extractions.

Boarding for Pets

If you plan to travel and need a temporary home for your pet, boarding becomes an important consideration. A reputable dog boarding facility requires proof of up-to-date vaccinations before accepting pets, ensuring the safety and well-being of all animals in their care. So, maintaining an updated vaccination schedule plays a significant role in ensuring your pet has a safe and comfortable boarding experience.


Ensuring the health of your pet involves taking the time to understand and adhere to recommended vaccination schedules. It’s crucial to work with a trusted veterinarian to determine the appropriate vaccinations for your pet based on their age, lifestyle, and other individual factors. Regular vaccinations will not only protect your pet against serious diseases but also contribute to creating a safer environment for the pet community overall.