Visit Your Veterinarian
A lifelong relationship with your new pet begins with a visit to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will help you maintain your pet’s health, recommend vaccinations in line with local laws and the best interest of your pet’s health, and be available to treat a variety of medical conditions. Remember that all cats and dogs four months or older must have a current rabies vaccination, which only a veterinarian can provide!
Why Should I Vaccinate My Cat?
The purpose of vaccinations is to prevent disease and combat viruses. Prior to vaccines, pets frequently died from viral infections. Since the advent of vaccines, death due to viruses that have a vaccine available has significantly declined.
When a normal, healthy kitten is born, the kitten’s immune system has not been exposed to foreign substances or viruses. Through the mother's milk, the kitten will gain some immunity from those viruses the mother is protected against. In the first five to six weeks of life, the mother's antibodies are sufficient to keep the kitten immune from most common viruses. At about five to six weeks, this immunity begins to weaken.
Before the days of effective vaccines, cats routinely died from panleukopenia ("feline distemper") and complications of upper respiratory (herpesvirus, calicivirus) infections. Vaccines are now available to protect against feline leukemia virus infection, feline infectious peritonitis virus and other infections (chlamydia, feline bordetella, ringworm). Current vaccination programs also protect our cats (and us) from the threat of rabies.
Most vaccines are administered by injection (shots), but some newer vaccines can be administered through the nostrils and have been developed to protect against a variety of infections. Some veterinarians believe that annual revaccination is an important and critical part of preventative health care.
Vaccine Recommendations for Dogs
Before the days of effective vaccines, dogs routinely died from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and complications of upper respiratory infections. Current vaccination programs protect our dogs (and us) from the threat of rabies. Vaccines, including those administered through the nostrils, have been developed to protect against a variety of infections.
It is recommended that puppies receive a series of vaccines starting between six and eight weeks of age. Usually the last vaccination is given between 14 and 16 weeks of age. The vaccine should protect against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus, parainfluenza and canine parvovirus. It is also recommended that a vaccine against bordetella be given if there is a risk of kennel cough. The rabies vaccine, usually administered between 16 and 26 weeks of age should be given in accordance with Texas state law. In some areas, a newer vaccine effective against specific forms of the bacteria leptospirosis may be important.
It is important to booster the puppy vaccines in young adult dogs, ages 20 weeks to two years, to ensure adequate lifelong immunity against deadly viral diseases. Your veterinarian will likely recommend a booster vaccine for your dog one year after the puppy vaccine series. This will protect your adult dog against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus, parainfluenza and canine parvovirus. It is also recommended that a vaccine against bordetella be given if there is a risk of kennel cough. The rabies vaccine should be given in accordance with Texas state law. In some areas, a newer vaccine effective against specific forms of the bacteria leptospirosis may be important. Check with your veterinarian on which vaccines would be best for your dog.
Rabies is a deadly viral disease affecting the brain and nervous system. You or your pets can get rabies from a bite or scratch from a rabid animal or by getting the rabid animal’s saliva in your eyes, nose, mouth, or an open wound. Although all warm-blooded animals can get rabies, animals in Texas that are high risk for spreading rabies include: bats, skunks, foxes, coyotes, and raccoons. Cats and dogs over three months of age must be vaccinated against rabies. The first rabies shot must be repeated (a booster) after one year. Rabies shots after that are good for three years. Cats and dogs must wear a current rabies tag. In addition to vaccinating your pet, one of the best ways to protect them from rabies and other dangers is to keep them at home. Do not allow your pet to run at large.
For yourself and your family, the most important things you can do are not to keep wild animals as pets and do not touch sick, injured, or dead animals. For any animal bite, wash the wound immediately with soap and water, seek medical help, and report the bite to Animal Services or the Police.
For more information on rabies: