Top 3 Vaccine Questions to ask your vet

Did you know you could have potentially been overvaccinating your pet FOR YEARS?! There’s a tonne of confusion amongst pet owners right now as to what optimum vaccination means for your furry family member – and unfortunately, not all vets out there are following the AVA’s recommendations.

We’re here to set the record straight. We want you armed & informed with 3 super important questions to ask your vet next time you think your cat or dog’s vaccine boosters are due. Not only that, we’ll give you the answers you should expect too!

#1. What kinds of vaccines will you be giving my dog or cat?

For both cats & dogs, vaccines fall into 2 groups: core & non-core:

Core (DAP or C3) Non Core
  • Distemper Virus
  • Adenovirus
  • Parvovirus
  • Parainfluenza (Intranasal)*
  • Bordetella (Intranasal)*
  • Leptospira (Intranasal or Oral)*

*Intranasal = through the nose.


Core (FV-RCP or F3) Non Core
  • Feline Parvovirus
  • Calicivirus
  • Herpesvirus
  • Feline Leukaemia (FeLV)
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
  • Chlamydia felis

Bonus tip: for dogs, non-core vaccines have shown to be more effective when administered intranasally (through the nose) or orally (through the mouth). Given this way, they have shown to be 95% effective, as opposed to via injection which has shown to result in only 73% effectiveness.

#2. How often should I be vaccinating my dog or cat?


According to the Australian Veterinary Association’s guidelines on vaccines (reviewed in 2009), vaccines should be administered to pets on a case-by-case basis, based on your pet’s individual needs.

With core vaccines in particular, the policy states: “Current scientific consensus recommends that adult cats and dogs should be vaccinated with core vaccines triennially (3-yearly) where applicable.”

Core vaccines given every 3 years – as opposed to every year – have shown to have the same level of effectiveness whilst reducing what’s known as the ‘vaccine load’ on individual animals, which also minimises the risk of reactions to the vaccines.

Remember, vaccines are powerful chemical compounds being injected into your pet’s body – if they are old, frail, suffering from other conditions or are simply within the 3-year window from their last round of core immunisations, you run the risk of putting an unnecessary strain on your pet’s immune system.

Other non-core vaccines should also be given after your vet has carefully considered your pet’s age, lifestyle factors, risk of exposure and any additional health concerns. An annual check up is always a great idea to give your pet a once-over and nip any potential issues in the bud before they become painful – and expensive.

#3 How do I get my puppy or kitten’s vaccinations right from Day 1?

There are 2 pieces of valuable information you’ll need to have with you when you bring your puppy or kitten in and ask this question.


  • Know how old was your puppy or kitten when they received their first round of vaccinations.


Similar to some vets, not all breeders and adoption centres operate according to the AVA guidelines, for a number of reasons. So be sure to ask this question when you pick up you new furry family member, as it could be critical to their health over the next 12 months.


  • Know whether your puppy or kitten was raised by its mother and weaned at around 6-8 weeks of age, or if it was bottle fed.


This will impact your new friend’s exposure to Maternal Antibody Interference, or MAI:


What is Maternal Antibody Interference (MAI)?

When puppies & kittens are born, they are given a great amount of protection to diseases through their mother’s milk. During this time, their immune system can fight off most diseases, however they will also fight off vaccines and potentially cancel out their effect. This risk of ‘cancelling out’ is called Maternal Antibody Interference.


As puppies & kittens grow and begin feeding for themselves – normally by the 8 week mark – the protection also starts to fade over the following few weeks. It’s advised that the first round of vaccines are given at this time (from 8 weeks) to allow them the greatest period of protection with the lowest risk of MAI, which could potentially cancel out their vaccinations and expose them to harmful diseases.

Of course, if your puppy or kitten was bottle fed, then it received no protection from it’s mother’s milk and should be vaccinated as early as possible, as it’s little immune system is all on it’s own.

The table below shows the preferred vaccination schedule for our furry little ones:



1st Dose 2nd Dose 3rd Dose 4th Dose
6 weeks 9 weeks 12 weeks 16 weeks
7 weeks 11 weeks 15 weeks 19 weeks
8 weeks
12 weeks 16 weeks


As a bonus, weaned kittens & puppies vaccinated at the preferred milestones of 8, 12 and 16 weeks in fact generally need less vaccines, which means less stress for them and less expense for you!

Ready for your next vet visit?

As mentioned earlier, we strongly recommend a yearly health check with your vet regardless of their vaccination cycle. But next time you’re in the clinic, be sure to ask these 3 big questions about your pet’s immunisations and overall health (and have the correct answers in mind!)

Curious to know more? You can check out more vaccine tips & info here.