Last week our blog post talked about annual booster vaccines and why they are important. It makes sense that over time the body's response to a vaccine would decrease and a booster would be needed (think of those horrible tetanus vaccines every 10 years). But what's the deal with puppy and kitten shots? Why does a vaccine need to be given every 3 weeks?
To understand the reason for puppy and kitten series, we need to know how vaccines work. As discussed last week, when the body is exposed to an antigen (a virus, bacteria, or some protein component from one) it responds by producing antibodies and specific white blood cells targeted to that particular bacteria or virus. Over time the body's response decreases and the animal's titer, or amount of antibody in a blood sample, drops indicating there is less protection against the virus or bacteria. However, if we booster a vaccine, the titer increases above the original highest peak producing better and longer lasting protection. With puppy and kitten series, we are exposing the young animal to new viruses and bacteria they have never seen and have no previous protection against, so it makes sense to booster several times.
This chart shows the increased immune response (antibody production) with booster vaccines
Although it's inconvenient to come see us every 3 weeks from 6 weeks of age until 16 weeks of age, by following the complete puppy or kitten vaccine series you give your pet the best chance of developing a hearty immune system able to deal with the challenges it faces. It also lets us do several checks to listen to the heart and lungs, check for birth defects, treat internal parasites, and monitor growth. We are happy to discuss behavior issues and feeding regimes, and offer help for the new pet parent - all without any extra exam fees! Make the most of your puppy or kitten series and get your new friend started off right!
- Dr. Kris Hubbard