As a pet owner, there are certain preventative tasks that you must take care of if you want your special friend to enjoy a long and happy life, from de-worming and wellness exams to proper nutrition and dental care. Vaccinations are one of those critical tasks—and here at Oak Ridge Animal Hospital in Greensboro, we’re more than happy to keep your pet protected against hazardous diseases. Our veterinary clinic provides a variety of vaccines for every stage of life.

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What Are Vaccines, and Why Do They Matter?

To understand why vaccines are so important, you must first understand how your pet’s immune system works. Normally, the immune system learns how to create antibodies that fight a specific germ upon exposure to it. Unfortunately, some disease organisms can cause death or life-threatening illness through that first exposure. This is where vaccines can come to the rescue. Vaccines are “imitation germs” that are often just deactivated versions of the real thing. These substances can’t infect your pet, but they can trigger their immune system to start making those life-saving antibodies before the actual germ invades their body.

Core Vaccinations, Non-Core Vaccinations, and Booster Shots

Puppies and kittens benefit from a certain amount of disease protection through the antibodies present in their mothers’ milk. But, as they are weaned and start to eat solid food, they’re left enormously vulnerable to killer diseases. For this reason, we generally recommend starting your pet on vaccinations when they are six weeks old. We then continue to administer periodic injections through the age of 16 weeks to build up your pet’s disease resistance.

The vaccinations your puppy or kitten—and every puppy or kitten—should receive during these months are called core vaccinations. These vaccinations protect pets against the diseases they’re most likely to face in everyday life. Rabies vaccination is an obvious must for cats and dogs, but your dog will also need vaccinations against distemper, canine hepatitis, and canine parvovirus. Your cat will need vaccinations against panleukopenia, rhinotracheitis, and feline calicivirus.

Will your pet stay in close quarters with other animals or explore tick-infested climates? If so, we may also recommend non-core or elective vaccinations to protect against the additional threats posed by these environments—diseases such as Lyme disease, feline leukemia, and Bordetella. Whatever vaccinations your pet receives, we will schedule booster shots after one to three years to keep their immunity strong for life.