How often should my pet’s vaccinations be updated?

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The common brands of vaccinations used in Singapore for dogs and cats are administered annually. Both dog and cat vaccines tend to be multivalent – that is, they protect your pet against more than 1 type of disease.

For cats, the 4-in-1 vaccine protects them against Rhinotracheitis virus, calicivirus, panleukopenia (parvo) virus, and Chlamydia psittaci. These are generally infectious agents that cause upper respiratory tract infections, while feline panleukopenia is a severe, multi-organ disease that affects kittens.

Vaccinating our pets not only protects them from severe disease, but also prevents the spread of these cat and dog viruses to other pets, especially at-risk animals like puppies and kittens. Furthermore, vaccinating a dam (mother dog) or queen (mother cat) helps give the babies some immunity against diseases when they’re born.

For dogs, there’s a variety of multivalent vaccines available – 3-in-1 all the way up to 9-in-1! Is more always better?

The core vaccines for dogs include Parvovirus, Distempervirus and Adenovirus (hepatitis). The immunity against these diseases, once a dog is fully vaccinated, tends to be long-lasting, more than 1 year. This is why you may have heard or been told that dogs don’t need to be vaccinated yearly, especially as they get older.

However, with newer multivalent vaccines becoming available, our pets can additionally be protected against Parainfluenza virus, Coronavirus and Leptospirosis (several strains of this bacteria). The immunity against these diseases tends to be less lasting, requiring booster vaccinations yearly.

Depending on your pets’ lifestyle, there are some other vaccines that your vet may recommend:

  1. Pets moving to rabies-endemic countries must be vaccinated against rabies.
  2. Dogs visiting places with many other dogs (e.g. boarding/daycare kennels, training classes, high-traffic grooming salons, dog parks), can be vaccinated against kennel cough. Dogs of all ages can catch kennel cough and it can be quite a loud and persistent cough.
  3. Cats that are FeLV negative can be vaccinated against FeLV if they are at risk of contact with FeLV positive cats, such as in a multi-cat household or a group daycare/boarding setting.

It is important to ensure your pet gets a yearly general health checkup so that your vet can advise better on what vaccinations should be updated.