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Puppies and Kittens: The Importance of Vaccinations

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

If you’ve recently welcomed a new puppy or kitten into your family, one of the most important ways you can keep them safe and healthy is to vaccinate them against infectious diseases.

Not all diseases are transmitted directly from other pets, so it’s important to understand that simply isolating your furbaby from other animals may not be enough to protect them.


What age should I vaccinate my puppy?

Annual vaccinations are essential to keep your puppy safe from diseases such as parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis and canine cough.

The first core vaccine should be given at 6-8 weeks of age, and then a booster vaccine should be given every 4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Thereafter, your pup should be vaccinated annually.

A thorough health check is included, so an annual vaccination visit is a good time to get anything checked that you may be concerned about.

Which diseases will my puppy be vaccinated against?

We generally recommend a C5 vaccination for puppies and dogs. It offers protection from the following diseases:

Canine Cough (also known as Kennel Cough)

Parainfluenza (viral) and Bordetella (bacterial) both cause tracheobronchitis (inflammation of the windpipe and bronchi). Signs are characterised by a sudden onset of a dry hacking cough.

The disease is acquired from inhalation of droplets from a cough from an infected dog or direct nose-to-nose contact with infected dogs. Dogs are more likely to get the disease from kennels, pet shops and other stressful environments where many animals are housed, but any contact with an infected dog (e.g. in a park or at the beach) may lead to your pet becoming ill.


Parvovirus is a deadly virus that affects the gastrointestinal tract, bone marrow and lymphatic systems. The disease is acquired by contact with the saliva (or vomitus) or faeces of an infected animal or by direct contact with an infected animal. However, the virus can persist in faeces in the environment for several months if conditions are favourable.

A puppy can become infected by contact with contaminated areas of the environment, and humans can carry the disease on their hands and clothing from one dog to another.


Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that is often fatal. It can be spread via nose-to-nose contact with infected animals or sniffing urine, vomit or faeces from an infected animal. It affects many body systems, including the respiratory, gastrointestinal, nervous and lymphatic systems.


Hepatitis describes inflammation of the liver, but the disease is actually more extensive than affecting just this organ. Initially, the dog has a fever, and then the virus spreads to the lymphatic system and damages the liver and kidneys.

The disease is acquired by inhalation or ingestion of an infected droplet, usually in urine or faeces and can be fatal.


What age should I vaccinate my kitten?

Vaccinations are administered from kittenhood, with boosters given throughout life. Every cat is different, and that is why your veterinarian will advise you on which diseases your cat needs to be protected from based on their environment and lifestyle.

The first core vaccination administered to kittens is from 6-8 weeks of age, then every 3–4 weeks until 16–20 weeks of age.

Which diseases will my kitten be vaccinated against?

The minimum level of vaccinations required to keep your cat safe and healthy will depend largely on their lifestyle, proximity to other cats and their medical history.

Our vets will conduct a thorough physical examination and health check before recommending a suitable vaccination regime for your cat.

Diseases we commonly vaccinate against include:

Feline Enteritis (also known as Panleukopenia)

The onset of this disease is very rapid and can often be fatal. Cats become infected by direct faecal and oral contact as well as indirectly by contaminated objects such as food bowls, bedding, floors and human-hand contact.

Feline Calicivirus and Herpes Virus (Cat Flu)

Cats generally become infected with respiratory diseases by close contact with other cats; however, it can also be spread via contaminated food bowls, bedding, litter trays or human hands.

Cat flu can cause long-term problems including sneezing, nasal discharge and inflamed eyes. Cat flu patients may also develop gum problems or mouth and corneal ulcers, making them reluctant to eat and giving them chronic water eyes. Inappetance can result in dehydration and is potentially fatal.

Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)

FeLV is another disease affecting the cat’s immune system and is transmitted through mutual grooming, shared food and water bowls, mating or fighting.

Symptoms may include weight loss and general poor health.

There is no cure for FeLV, and it can be fatal.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV or Feline Aids)

Outdoor cats can become infected if bitten by another cat with FIV, and it can also be transmitted by a mother cat to her kittens via milk. This is a highly contagious virus through physical contact and can be prevented well through appropriate vaccination.

FIV affects a cat’s immune system and is potentially fatal.

Chlamydophila (previously known as Chlamydia)

Chlamydophila is another disease that is transmitted by direct contact with other cats. It causes watery eyes, conjunctivitis and upper respiratory disease and can cause infertility in queens.

Indoor Cats

As a general rule, we protect indoor cats with an annual F3 vaccination to protect them against Feline Panleukopenia, Cat Flu and Chlamydophila.

Outdoor Cats

Outdoor cats will require an F5 or F6 depending on risks associated with their environment or health status. In addition to the diseases covered by an F4 vaccination, an F5 or F6 protects your cat against FeLV and FIV respectively.

The best way to decide about vaccinations for your puppy or kitten is to consult with our vets. To book an appointment, please call our friendly nurses on (07) 3288 1822.


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