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What are core and non-core vaccines?
Vaccines, also known as shots, work by exposing your pet’s immune system to an incomplete or inactive strain of infectious agents. This helps their body build immune cells that are designed to respond to the real infection, if and when they’re exposed. Vaccines are cost effective, easy to administer, and highly effective at preventing everything from irritating to potentially deadly illness.
Core vaccines are those considered essential for your pet’s health. Non-core vaccines are optional, but may be recommended for your pet depending on their lifestyle. During your wellness exam, our vets will discuss which vaccines are right for your pet.
Which vaccines are core dog vaccines?
Rabies: Legally required in Toronto, and protects your dog against the fatal disease.
DHPP: A combination vaccine that protects against Distemper, Infectious Hepatitis, Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza.
Which vaccines are core cat vaccines?
Rabies: Legally required in Toronto, regardless of whether the cat goes outdoors or not.
FVRCP: A combination vaccine that protects against Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia.
Feline Leukemia Virus: An incurable virus transmitted through close contact with infected cats, especially during fights. It’s recommended for kittens even if they won’t be going outdoors. For older, indoor-only cats, boosters are not required.
Does my pet need all the core and non-core vaccines?
While your pet needs all the core vaccines, they may not need all of the non-core vaccines. Our vets will discuss vaccines with you at your wellness exam and may recommend non-core vaccines depending on your pet’s lifestyle.
When should I vaccinate my cat or dog?
Our vets will give you an exact schedule for your pet, and we’ll send you reminders one month before your pet is due for a vaccine booster. Here's an example schedule:
Puppy vaccine schedule:
- 8 weeks: Distemper vaccine (1 of 3), Bordetella vaccine (1 of 1), Lyme vaccine (1 of 2), Canine Influenza Virus vaccine (1 of 2)
- 12 weeks: Distemper vaccine (2 of 3), Leptospirosis vaccine (1 of 2), Rabies vaccine (1 of 1), Lyme vaccine (2 of 2), Canine Influenza Virus vaccine (2 of 2)
- 16 weeks: Distemper vaccine (3 of 3), Leptospirosis vaccine (2 of 2)
Kitten vaccine schedule:
- 8 weeks: FVRCP vaccine (1 of 3)
- 12 weeks: FVRCP vaccine (2 of 3), Leukemia vaccine (1 of 2), Rabies vaccine (1 of 1)
- 16 weeks: FVRCP vaccine (3 of 3), Leukemia vaccine (2 of 2)
Adult dog vaccine schedule:
- Rabies: one year after the initial puppy vaccine, then every three years
- Distemper: every three years
- Bordetella: every year
- Leptospirosis: every year
- Canine influenza: every year
- Lyme disease: every year
Adult cat vaccine schedule:
- FVRCP: every three years
- Rabies: every three years
- Feline Leukemia virus: one year after the initial kitten series, then every other year for at-risk (outdoor) cats only
Why does my puppy or kitten need a lot of shots?
Puppies and kittens are especially vulnerable to diseases because they have underdeveloped immune systems. Multiple vaccinations, also known as boosters, is the best way to make sure your puppy or kitten builds the antibodies they need as their immune system matures.
Why does my pet need booster shots?
The antibodies your pet gets from a vaccine decrease over time, so it’s important to give booster shots to keep up your pet’s immunity.
How often does my pet need boosters?
Your pet needs regular boosters to stay healthy. Our vets will review your pet’s medical history and prepare a personalised vaccine schedule to keep your pet safe. We’ll also send you reminders when your pet is due for a booster.
Do vaccines hurt?
Vaccines may cause your pet some slight discomfort and they may be a little sore at the injection site for a few days. Ultimately, it’s easier to deal with the short-term pain of a shot than the illness these vaccines help prevent.
What are the risks of a reaction?
Our vaccine schedules are specifically designed to minimise the chance of a reaction. Mild side effects like feeling tired or irritable are completely normal and will resolve themselves quickly. If your pet experiences any of the following more serious reactions after a vaccination, please contact us:
- Facial swelling, hives, or excessive itching
- Agitation or restlessness
- A lump at the vaccination site that lasts more than a couple of weeks
- Excessive/prolonged lethargy or a refusal to eat, especially if it lasts more than 24 hours
What should I expect afterwards?
A mild decrease in appetite and energy after the vaccination is normal. Your pet may also be a little sore, or have a small lump at the vaccination site for a few days.
Can I schedule the a vaccine at the same time as a wellness exam?
Yes, depending on the vaccine, we're happy to double-up on visits whenever possible to make things easier on you and your pet. Contact our team directly to see if a particular vaccine is able to be provided at your first appointment.