Vaccinations are the talk of New Zealand, and in fact the world, right now. And for good reason; they help save lives. The same goes for your pets

It’s important to remember their vaccinations and booster shots to help keep them healthy. We have put together some useful information on pet vaccinations to help you out.

Why vaccinate your pet?

“Vaccines are one of the most important tools available to care for animal health and, by extension, our own health.”1

Our precious pets encounter all sorts of invisible germs each day, some of which can be harmful. Dogs and cats are at risk of catching several dangerous viral and bacterial diseases. Vaccines provide protection from these diseases. They help prepare your pet’s immune system ahead of time from future attacks.

Prevention beats treatment

No one wants to see their dog or cat sick. Vaccines work by either preventing your pet from catching the virus or reducing the severity of the effects. Vaccine medicine teaches the pet’s immune system how to fight diseases it hasn’t yet faced.2

Different needs for different breeds

Cats and dogs have different diseases that could affect them, so they have different vaccination requirements.

Dogs in New Zealand are generally vaccinated for leptospirosis, canine adenovirus/viral hepatitis, canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus, canine parainfluenza and kennel cough.3,4

Cats need vaccination protection, including from diseases such as feline calicivirus (cat flu), feline panleukopenia (feline enteritis or distemper), feline parvovirus, feline immunodeficiency virus, feline leukaemia virus and feline chlamydiosis. 5,6

Timing is everything

Puppies and kittens need a series of vaccines 3-4 weeks apart, starting from around 6-8 weeks of age (they receive some immunity from their mother’s milk before then). It helps to plan your pet’s vaccination schedule at your initial vet consultation, so they can tailor it for your pet’s needs.

Importantly, if you leave it too long between vaccinations, you may need to re-start your pet’s vaccination programme.

Booster vaccinations and health checks

Dogs will need a booster vaccination every year throughout their lives to maintain immunity. The time between vaccines for cats ranges from between 12-36 months. Booster vaccination time is also a good time for a general health check for your pet.

3 pet vaccination tips

  • Book your pet’s vaccinations with your vet ahead of time. Life gets busy, pre-booking all shots will ensure they’re not forgotten.
  • Add your pet’s vaccination schedule to your calendar or planner so you won’t forget when to go.
  • Start a ‘Vaccination Day’ ritual. Choose something fun for you and your pet to do on those days to mark the milestones in a positive way.

Your dog or cat may feel a little under the weather for a short while afterwards, so give them lots of extra cuddles and attention.

Check with your vet

Each vet has their own protocol and vaccination schedule that they recommend. Make sure you chat to them to find out what is best for your pet to make sure you have them protected.


2 Understanding Animal Research, Mia Rozenbaum, 2019
3 Advice and welfare vaccinations for dogs, NZ SPCA, 2021
4 VetEnt, 2021
5 Advice and welfare vaccinations for cats, NZ SPCA, 2021


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