Baby’s first steps . . . boosters

Puppies and kittens are all tumbling exuberance, innocent naptimes, and the magic elixir of baby breath. It can be hard to remember the practical side of health care — like shots.

Wikipedia states “Solid-fuel rocket boosters (SRBs) are large solid propellant motors used to provide thrust in spacecraft launches from initial launch through the first ascent stage.”

Boosters play a similar role for our furry little rockets.

Mama starts the protection with passive immunity passed through her milk colostrum within the first 24 hours. From there, booster shots continue to stimulate active immunity.

A licensed veterinarian is your lifetime partner and primary source for your baby’s plan of care from the beginning. Many clinics offer tailored wellness packages, providing everything you need and keeping you on track with boosters and more.

“The series of vaccines your new little addition receives as a puppy (or kitten) will be the same as later yearly vaccines,” explains Jessica Forde, Good Neighbor Vet Brand Manager. “It’s important to maintain yearly inoculations to further build your pet’s immunity.”

For puppies, basic vaccines include DAPP, Bordetella, and Rabies. These are considered core vaccines for canines.

“For puppies, additional innoculations like Leptospirosis, Lyme, and Flu are known as lifestyle vaccines,” Forde adds, “and should be considered based upon the pet’s lifestyle.” Lifestyle vaccines may be indicated for puppies who will spend time at the dog park or day care, hiking, or camping.

For kittens, FeLV/Fiv testing is important as both viruses weaken the immune system drastically and are highly contagious. The blood test is quick, and results indicate whether special care is needed.

“Kittens receive a series of boosters of the feline HCP which covers what is better known as feline distemper,” Forde explains, “and the Leukemia vaccine prevents diseases associated with FeLV.”

Most puppy/kitten shots begin around eight weeks of age. Boosters are typically given every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age to antibody production within a healthy immune system, and “boost” immunity until the pet’s immune system begins creating its own long-term protection. It is recommended to wait a couple of weeks after the last vaccination in the series before exposing a puppy or kitten to other pets, giving their immune system time to build.

“It’s during this time you want to be careful taking your pet around other animals that may not be vaccinated, or in areas where wildlife may leave excrement,” says Forde. “Both unvaccinated puppies and kittens and those currently in their vaccines series are at risk of zoonotic diseases and even fatal diseases such as parvo. A puppy or kitten is much safer on a short leash, inside the home, or even better, cuddled in one’s arms.”

Early trips to the vet for shots are also an opportunity for little ones to learn that vet trips are a good thing, so heap on the praise. “Pawwwwsitive reinforcement!” says Forde. “Treats before the vet visit, during the visit, and after.”

It’s also important to protect both puppies and kittens against parasites – worms, fleas, ticks and mites seek warm fluffy bodies as hosts. Babies can acquire internal parasites like round worms and hook worms at birth. And while parasites can cause discomfort and serious disease, thankfully they’re easily prevented or treated. Trust your veterinary team for the safest, most effective products available for all of these concerns.

Shots can make anyone feel punk, including fur-kids. But if s/he doesn’t bounce back within 24-72 hours, contact your vet. Typical side effects include low-grade fever, lethargy, injection site soreness/tenderness, and loss of appetite. If a more sensitized reaction appears, like suddenly scratching the head or neck, difficulty breathing, facial swelling or hives, call your vet.

“Keep puppies away from other pups and communal areas (parks, shared sidewalks, parking lots) until they are totally done with their distemper/parvo vaccination series,” sums up Amélie Rivaleau, DVM, Tanasbourne Veterinary Emergency. “The vaccines are done in a series so that when the maternal antibodies from mom wane, the immunity from the vaccines is high — but they are not fully protected until the series is done. The diseases vaccinated for in those series are expensive to try to treat and even tragic.”


Good Neighbor Vet * * 888-234-1350

Tanasbourne Veterinary Emergency * * 503-629-5800

Christy Caballero writes from the heart about all things pet-related, from a couple deer trails off the beaten path, typically juggling a cat (or two) on her lap as black kitty AsTar teeters on her shoulder and Mojo the retired Greyhound quietly calls for reinforcements!!