PD Pet insurance educates pet owners on the New Zealand vaccination schedule for pets

Pet Vaccinations and Schedules in NZ: What You Need to Know


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We know, we know. MORE vaccination talk. But this time, it’s pet vaccinations. Just like the COVID vaccinations, cat and dog vaccinations are there to keep our animals safe from potentially deadly viruses and bacteria.

As pet parents we know animals aren’t too picky about what they sniff, eat, and play in. All kinds of diseases basically get a free ride, when you think about it. And though your cat might think they’re the cleanest of all thanks to their 23-million licks a day (mostly at night while you’re trying to sleep), even indoor cats need vaccinations. As do our dog friends!

So, here’s the must-know information on the recommended pet vaccination schedules in New Zealand.

Suggested schedules for pet vaccinations

Dogs and cats both have different recommended schedules for pet vaccinations, but there are some similarities in their healthcare. For example, although you mostly hear about parvo in relation to dogs there’s also a cat parvo, known as Feline Panleukopenia.

Most pet jab programs start when puppies and kittens are around six weeks old. They’re usually being weaned by this time and so the antibodies they get from their mother are beginning to wear off.

The maternal immunity puppies and kittens get in the womb and from suckling help the babies to grow up strong and healthy. But then they need to start a pet jab schedule to let their immune system support them into – and throughout – adulthood.

Here’s roughly what a pet vaccination schedule would look like, for dogs and then for cats.

Pet vaccinations for dogs

Dog vaccinations start at six weeks, then you’ll have to take them in for a few boosters in the first year. After that though, your vet trips will become fewer as you’ll only need vaccinations once yearly in most cases.

Dog vaccinations for puppies are divided into core and non-core vaccines. Core jabs are needed for all dogs whereas non-core vaccinations are optional. If you’re unsure about what’s what, your vet will recommend the most appropriate ones depending on what your puppy is most likely to be exposed to.

Here’s a guide as to the usual vaccination schedule for dogs:

6-8 weeksInitial vaccination
10-12 weeksFirst booster
14-16 weeksSecond booster
16 monthsThird booster, one year after second booster
AnnuallyOngoing, every year

Let’s take a closer look below at the essential (core) and the non-essential dog vaccination jabs, which might still be recommended depending on your individual circumstances. Once you’ve read this, find out about other essential puppy health care milestones.

Core dog vaccinations

  1. Canine distemper virus. Distemper (which has now been essentially eradicated in New Zealand due to high vaccination rates) is a highly contagious airborne virus that attacks the respiratory, nervous, and gastrointestinal systems. In severe cases, it can be fatal. There are a wide range of symptoms that include vomiting, fever, sneezing, coughing, and paralysis.
  2. Canine hepatitis. Hepatitis is a viral infection of the liver. It can be contracted when a dog comes into contact with saliva, mucous, urine, or stool from an infected dog. Symptoms include coughing, fever, congestion, and discharge from the eyes. It can be fatal.
  3. Canine parvovirus. Parvo is a very serious, life-threatening virus. It’s highly contagious. Dogs can contract it through coming into contact with an infected dog or surfaces an infected dog has touched. Parvo symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and weight loss. Find out more about parvo, here:

Non-core dog vaccinations

Non-core puppy vaccinations aren’t necessary for all dogs. However, some dogs might be at risk due to where you live, the lifestyle they lead, and other risk factors. Your vet will help you decide which non-core pet vaccinations are needed.

These include Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough), Leptospirosis and Parainfluenza (a respiratory virus).

If you do opt for non-core vaccinations, they’re usually given with the booster round of core vaccinations. Watch this video to find out more about pet jabs with Dr Cath Watson:

Vaccinations for cats

Like puppies, kittens have initial maternal immunity that wears off once they become weaned and start going out into the big wide world. Cats have a series of core pet jabs alongside non-core vaccinations.  

Here’s what most cats’ vaccination schedule will look like:

6-8 weeksInitial vaccination
10-12 weeksFirst booster
14-16 weeksSecond booster
6-12 monthsThird booster
Every 1-3 yearsA booster every one to three years to maintain immunity

Core kitten vaccinations

  • Feline herpesvirus (FHV-1). This potentially fatal virus causes upper-respiratory tract infections and can result in pneumonia. They can get it through direct contact with discharge from an infected cat’s eyes, mouth or nose or through sharing surfaces with an infected cat.
  • Feline panleukopenia virus (FPV). Also known as feline parvo or sometimes feline distemper, FPV is very serious and often fatal. The virus is usually caught through contact with infected faeces from an infected cat. Once infected, a cat will “shed” the virus through secretions for up to six weeks. Symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, tiredness and diarrhoea.
  • Feline calicivirus (FCV). This is a life-threatening contagious virus. It can be spread through virus particles, just like feline herpes. Your cat will likely display cold-like symptoms like sneezing, congestion, a stuffy nose, and fever.
tortoiseshell kitten

Non-core kitten vaccinations

In addition to the core vaccines, some non-core pet vaccinations will often be recommended by your vet, specific to your cat’s needs. For example, they might suggest vaccinations against feline chlamydiosis, Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV), or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). FIV can develop into feline Aids, which is a growing problem in New Zealand. Find out more about it, here:

Although vaccinations are a key part of routine pet care, they aren’t the only thing you should know about. Read our cat health care article to find out more about your cat’s first year of life and what health milestones you should pass with them during that time.


Here are some of the most searched questions by New Zealand’s pet owners when it comes to pet vaccinations:

Do older dogs need a parvo vaccination? 

Yes, older dogs may still need a parvo vaccination, although the frequency and necessity of it can vary based on their age, health condition, jab history, and how common diseases are in your area.

Can you vaccinate a pregnant dog or cat?

Vaccination of pregnant dogs or cats is a topic that should be discussed with a vet. Generally, the decision to vaccinate a pregnant animal depends on several factors, including the stage of pregnancy, the health of the mother, the jabs in question, and the risks that come with the diseases being vaccinated against.

How much do dog and cat vaccinations cost?

Costs can vary depending on the region, vet clinic, type of vaccine, extra services added, and the overall healthcare package you’re getting. Generally, a basic vaccination package for dogs or cats typically includes core jabs such as those for parvo, distemper and kennel cough and can range from about NZD 50 to NZD 100 per vaccine.

Do cats need vaccinations for a cattery? Dogs for a kennel?

Yes, jabs are generally required for cats staying in catteries or other pet boarding facilities. Ditto for dogs. They have these rules in place to ensure the health and safety of all pets in their care and to lessen the chance of diseases spreading.

Is it too late to vaccinate my cat or dog?

It’s never too late to vaccinate your cat or dog, regardless of their age! If they haven’t been previously vaccinated or if their jab status is unknown, it’s recommended you schedule an appointment with a vet. They’ll assess your pet’s health and make recommendations on their specific needs.

Close up on veterinarian taking care of pet

Pet vaccinations – let your vet guide you

Now you have a rough idea of your pet’s jab schedule, but keep in mind that your vet knows best. They’ll recommend the appropriate vaccination schedule for your pet.

There are lots of factors that can affect this, including your pet’s exposure to the outdoors, the environment they live in, what the rest of their health is like and much more. Perhaps you adopted an adult pet with limited vaccine history? If so, their needs would be different to a purebred puppy from a breeder.

Pet insurance is another thing your vet might recommend. Check out our three award-winning pet insurance plans that range from basic to deluxe then why not take a couple of minutes to get a quick quote now?

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