pet get getting vaccinations at the vet

Pet Vaccinations and Schedules in NZ

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

As pet parents we know animals aren’t too discerning 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 87-million licks a day (mostly at night while you’re trying to sleep), even indoor cats need vaccinations.  

So, while the human population is busy getting jabbed, here’s the must-know information on the recommended pet vaccination schedules here 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 vaccination programs start when puppies and kittens are around six weeks old. They’re usually 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 vaccination schedule to let their immune system support them into (and throughout!) adulthood.

Here’s roughly what a vaccination schedule would look like, separated into dogs and cats.

Pet vaccinations: dogs

Puppy 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 less frequent as you’ll only need vaccinations once yearly in most cases.

Pet vaccinations for puppies are divided into core and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are needed for all dogs. Non-core vaccinations are optional. If you’re not sure, your vet will recommend the right ones depending on what your puppy is most likely to be exposed to.

Here’s a guideline 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 at the essential (core) pet vaccinations for dogs, as well as the non-core vaccines, which might still be recommended depending on your individual circumstances

yorkie pet dog getting vaccinations

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.

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, Parainfluenza (a respiratory virus) and Canine coronavirus.

If you do opt for non-core vaccinations, the’re usually given with the booster round of core vaccinations. Read more about puppy health care milestones to find out more about other possible key health considerations you might be missing, from dental care to worming and flea treatments.

Vaccinations for cats

Like puppies, kittens have initial maternal immunity which wears off once they become weaned and start exploring the big wide world. Cats have a series of core pet vaccinations 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 parvovirus 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, lethargy and diarrhoea.
  • Feline calicivirus (FCV). This is a life-threatening contagious virus. It can be transmitted through virus particles, just like feline herpesvirus. Your cat will likely display cold-like symptoms like sneezing, congestion, nasal discharge, 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, as well as feline leukaemia virus (FeLV). FeLV can develop into feline AIDS, which is a growing problem in New Zealand.

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.

Pet vaccinations – let your vet guide you

Now you have a rough idea of your pet vaccination schedule. But keep in mind, your vet knows best and will always recommend a suitable schedule for your pet.

There are lots of factors that can affect their vaccination schedule, including their 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 veterinarian might recommend. Alongside our three different pet insurance plans, our Wellness Package add-on covers pet vaccinations and other costs, such as microchipping.

Why not take a couple of minutes to get a quick quote now?

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