Personalized Pet Vaccinations for Disease Prevention in Dogs & Cats

pet vaccination

Vaccines protect our pets from serious, contagious, and life-threatening diseases. Not every pet needs every vaccine, however. Various factors may change the preventive needs of your pet, including age, general health issues, and lifestyle. The veterinarians at Orchard Park Veterinary Medical Center assess every companion animal for his or her unique profile, creating a personalized disease prevention plan to suit your pet.

Vaccinating Young Pets

Your puppy or kitten needs multiple vaccination boosters during the first few months of life. The young animal's immune system is not able to respond as quickly or as effectively as an adult. Puppies and kittens also receive antibodies from their mother's milk, protecting them from infection during the first few months of life. Normally the levels of maternal antibodies decline over the first months of life, but can interfere with vaccines for up to 14 weeks of age.

At OPVMC, we do not generally recommend vaccinating before eight weeks of age. The puppy and kitten series for core vaccines—those needed by all pets—is listed below. Non-core vaccines may be given on a case-by-case basis. Ask your veterinarian to discuss these vaccines with you.


Canine distemper/parvovirus/adenovirus: 8, 12, and 16 weeks
Rabies: 16 weeks


Feline viral rhinotracheitis/calicivirus/panleukopenia: 8, 12, and 16 weeks
Rabies: 16 weeks

All puppy and kitten series vaccines should be boostered again at about the one-year mark.

Non-core vaccines are given annually as needed and include the following:

  • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme Disease)
  • Canine bordetella (kennel cough)
  • Canine influenza
  • Canine leptospirosis
  • Feline leukemia

Your veterinarian will perform a risk assessment evaluation and determine which non-core vaccines are needed by your pet based on lifestyle.

Vaccination Boosters

Booster vaccinations throughout the animal's life are necessary to re-charge the immune system. Over time, the immune response to the initial vaccination wanes and the immune system may need to be stimulated. The time frame in which vaccines lose effectiveness can vary.

Following your pet's puppy or kitten vaccination series, your pet will need a booster in one year for all vaccines. The interval for subsequent vaccinations varies depending upon the vaccination type, but we attempt to convert to three-year boosters when appropriate.

Currently, OPVMC follows the recommendations of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccine Task Force and those of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine .

Vaccine Reactions

Vaccine reactions are a rare occurrence, but serious. Please advise your veterinarian if your pet has had an adverse reaction to vaccines in the past. More common (but still rare) side effects of vaccination are low-grade fever, slight depression, and decreased appetite. These side effects are usually transitory, lasting for 24–48 hours. If your pet is vomiting, has diarrhea, facial swelling, or trouble breathing after vaccines have been given—even days later—these may be signs of a serious anaphylactic vaccine reaction. Please call our office immediately.

The standard OPVMC recommendation is to monitor pets for several hours after vaccinations. If possible, schedule the vaccination appointment on a day when you are free to be with your pet afterwards. As with all aspects of your pet's health care, please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about vaccinating your pet.