Everything You Need to Know About Pet Vaccinations

If you are going to adopt a cat or a dog, it is important that they get the pet immunizations they need. You can start by taking your pet to the veterinarian.

Your dog or cat’s veterinarian can let you know the exact pet shots that are needed. By vaccinating your pets, you're helping them improve their lifespan. In the meantime, you can look through this pet vaccination guide. 

Necessary or Highly Recommended Pet Immunizations

The number one pet immunization that is needed is the rabies shot. Some other vaccinations are needed or highly recommended, as well. Many of these pet immunizations can help to keep your cat or dog safe from harmful infections. In addition to the rabies vaccination, the other necessary or highly recommended pet shots include the following:

  • Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus - This disease is caused by the feline herpes virus (Type-1). It can lead to life-long issues with the respiratory system. It can also cause repeat eye infections. The feline rhinotracheitis virus can be spread through the air or with direct contact from a cat that is infected. 
  • Panleukopenia - This is a very dangerous disease. If a cat is not vaccinated against this virus, he or she can have a fatal reaction if they get infected with it. Panleukopenia attacks the white blood cells in a cat’s body. Cat’s that get this virus often have an immune system, nervous system, and gastrointestinal issues. 
  • Calicivirus - Cats can get this respiratory disease, as well. It attacks nasal and lung passages leading to severe pain. If a cat isn’t vaccinated against this virus, he or she can easily spread it to other cats. 
  • Canine Adenovirus Type 2 - This virus is caused by canine infectious hepatitis. It can also be caused by tracheobronchitis. This disease is spread from respiratory airborne or contact-based secretions. Oftentimes, it is spread when another pet touches the feces or urine of the infected pet. 
  • Distemper Virus - Pets can get this virus, too. It is often fatal disease. The distemper virus damages the nervous system. It also damages the gastrointestinal tract and respiratory tract. This virus is spread from direct contact with the virus or through airborne secretions. 
  • Parvovirus - Pets can get this extremely contagious, gastrointestinal virus, as well. It can be fatal. Parvovirus is spread from direct contact with an animal that is infected.
  • Parainfluenza - Another one of the things that pet immunizations can fight against is parainfluenza. This is a very contagious virus. It can be caused by tracheobronchitis. Generally, it is spread through airborne transmissions of the virus. 

These are the core pet immunizations that are often necessary or highly recommended by veterinarians. 

Non-Core Pet Immunizations

When you take your dog or cat to the veterinarian, some non-core pet immunizations might be recommended or needed, as well. Some of these pet shots include the following:

  • Lyme Disease - Dogs that live near the woods or places where there are many ticks often get this disease. This disease can be very dangerous or even fatal to dogs. It affects their nervous system and kidneys. This is why it is important to get your dogs the Lyme vaccination. 
  • Bordetella - This is also known as infectious canine tracheobronchitis. If your dog is going to be in a kennel or daycare for dogs, they may be required to get the Bordetella vaccination. This helps to prevent bordetella which is a very contagious respiratory system disease. 
  • Leptospirosis - If your dog swims a lot, he or she might be exposed to infected mud, urine, soil, or water. The leptospirosis infection can damage their central nervous system, kidneys, and liver. Sometimes, it can be fatal. This is why your dog needs to get pet shots that protect them from this infection. 
  • Feline Leukemia - Cats that spend a lot of time outdoors or in a household with other cats could get feline leukemia or FeLV. This can be spread in the feces, urine, blood, or saliva of cats. It can cause cancer, anemia, or other infections. Younger kittens have a higher chance of getting this specific infection. 

Now you know more about what your pets need to be protected from. You should talk to your pet’s veterinarian to schedule pet immunizations to keep your dog or cat safe. 

Legally Required Pet Shots

If you have a dog or a cat, it is important to know that there are legal vaccination laws. Dogs and cats must have a rabies vaccination.

The exact frequency of these vaccinations will vary depending on the region or state where you live with your pet. Some areas require annual rabies vaccinations, while other areas only require it once every 3 years. 

Typical Puppy Vaccination Schedule 

If you have a puppy, it can be helpful to know the typical puppy vaccination schedule. This includes the following:

  • Distemper Combo Vaccination - Usually scheduled between 6-8 weeks of age (boosters are given every 3-4 weeks after that until the puppy is 16 weeks old. Then, the puppy gets a booster 1 year later. This vaccination is given every 1-3 years after that booster shot. 
  • Rabies Vaccination - This vaccination should be given to puppies at 12-16 weeks old. The booster should be given 1 year later. Follow-up rabies shots should be given every 1-3 years after that (follow the local laws on this). 

If you have a puppy or you plan to adopt a puppy, be sure to follow this vaccination schedule or the one given by your pet’s veterinarian. 

Typical Kitten Vaccination Schedule 

If you have a kitten, you should follow the typical kitten vaccination schedule. This includes the following: 

  • Rabies Vaccination - This vaccination should be given to kittens at 12-16 weeks old. Then, kittens should get a booster rabies vaccination every 1-3 years after this (based on the local laws). 
  • FVRCP Vaccination - Kittens should be given this vaccination at 6 weeks or just a bit older. Then, they should get a booster vaccination every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old. After this, they should get a booster 1 year later. Then, cats will need the FVRCP vaccination every 1-3 years (this depends on the type of vaccine they get). 

If you have a kitten or you plan to get one, be sure to follow this vaccination schedule or the one given by your kitten’s veterinarian. 


Now you know more about the pet vaccinations that are necessary and highly recommended. You can get affordable pet vaccines for your dog or cat from pet stores, a veterinarian, or sometimes, even a shelter. Remember that by having your pets properly vaccinated, you're giving them a chance to live a longer and healthier lives.

Where can I get my pet vaccinated?

There are many places where you can get your pet vaccinated. You can go to a pet store to get your cat or dog vaccinations. You can also get your cat or dog their shots at a veterinarian’s office or sometimes, even at a shelter.

How much are animal shots?

The cost of animal shots can vary a lot. The average rate for these vaccinations is around $80-$100. The rabies vaccination will usually cost between $15-$20.

How much do pet vaccinations cost?

Pet vaccinations can range in price depending on where your cat or dog is getting them. Generally, the distemper, leptospirosis, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza, and adenovirus shots will be between $75-$100. The rabies vaccination is usually between $15-$20. The Bordetella vaccination is usually between $19-$45.

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Written by Leo Roux

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