Vaccinating Your Pet

Vaccines Keep Your Pet Healthy

There are many benefits to vaccinating your pet. Vaccines protect your pet’s health and can save you the heartbreak of unexpectedly losing your pet.

Cats and dogs need different vaccines, and your pet’s lifestyle might also affect what vaccines your pet needs to stay healthy. It is always best to talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s vaccine needs and how often your pet should receive vaccines.

Vaccines Your Pet Needs

In Ontario, all cats and dogs more than three months old must have an up-to-date rabies vaccine. In Ontario, rabies can be found in bats, skunks and raccoons and can spread to domestic animals and humans through a bite or scratch.

Rabies is typically deadly and there is no known cure, so prevention is essential.

Pets receive their first rabies vaccine between 12 to 16 weeks of age, a booster is given a year later and further boosters are given every one to three years.

It is recommended that all dogs receive vaccination against distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza and canine parvovirus (DA2PP).

It is recommended that all cats receive vaccination against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calici virus and feline panleukopenia virus (FVRCP).

These viruses are highly contagious and can be deadly especially for young animals. These viruses can also impact your pet’s health for years to come and require costly treatment. After your pet receives their first vaccination, talk to your veterinarian about how often your pet should receive a booster.

Dog and owner on a hike in the woods

Vaccines to Fit Your Pet’s Routine

Do you take your dog on long hikes through forest trails? Maybe your dog stays at a boarding kennel while you are away on vacation.

Depending on your dog’s routine, he may need additional vaccines to keep him healthy and protect him from common diseases like:

  • Bordetella;
  • Leptospirosis; and
  • Lyme disease.

Bordetella, or kennel cough, is largely spread from dog to dog at dog parks, in kennels or at the groomer. The disease’s severity can change depending on your dog’s age, breed and general health.

Lyme disease spreads through deer ticks to humans and animals. Leptospirosis spreads to your dog through contaminated water.

Your veterinarian will be able to determine which vaccines your dog needs and how often your dog needs vaccination.

Cats, depending on their exposure to the outdoors, can be at risk for feline leukemia virus, which can cause devastating immunosuppressive symptoms and cancer and spreads from cat to cat. Your vet will be able to advise if your cat needs to be vaccinated against feline leukemia virus and how often your cat should receive a booster.

Dog at the vet

Overdue Vaccines

If your pet has missed a vaccine, it is best to talk to your veterinarian as this may change your pet’s vaccine schedule.


2017 AAHA canine vaccination guidelines. (n.d.). Retrieved October 8, 2021, from

Feline leukemia virus. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. (2021, August 19). Retrieved October 8, 2021, from

Ontario Lyme Disease Estimated Risk Areas Map: 2018. (n.d.). Retrieved October 8, 2021, from

Rabies in Ontario. (n.d.). Retrieved October 8, 2021, from

Veterinary practice guidelines 2020 Aaha/AAFP feline … (n.d.). Retrieved October 8, 2021, from

Weese, S. (2019, March 28). Canine leptospirosis maps. Worms & Germs Blog. Retrieved October 8, 2021, from