National Vaccination Awareness Month

The best way to prevent diseases in your pets, as well as an outbreak in the community, is to vaccinate! At the Mildmay Vet Clinic, we take vaccination seriously and follow a strict rabies vaccine regime, as well as customizing a vaccine protocol specifically for your individual pets’ needs. Not only do we only recommend vaccinating ONLY with the vaccines your pets’ lifestyle requires, but for our toy breeds we make sure to space out our vaccines so they aren’t overwhelmed.

What Are Vaccines?

The principle behind vaccination is that small amounts of weakened or killed organisms that normally cause disease, or even just pieces of these organisms, are given to an animal. This stimulates the immune system to generate a protective immune response without an actual infection or illness.

Why Vaccinate?

There are many infectious diseases that affect dogs and cats. Some cause severe, life-threatening illness. Some cause mild symptoms that can resolve spontaneously or persist for years. And some, such as Rabies and Leptospirosis, are zoonotic. When a disease is zoonotic that means that animals can transmit these diseases to humans, causing severe illness and even death. 

Do They Work?

For many serious diseases, vaccination is very effective. There is some variation between vaccines, but the efficacy for vaccination against canine distemper, canine parvovirus, rabies, lyme disease (dogs only), feline panleukopenia, feline leukemia and Lyme disease is excellent (In some cases close to 100%)! Other vaccines, such as those for feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus, may not prevent infection but may markedly reduce the symptoms the infected pet suffers.

What, When, How Often?

Puppies and kittens that nurse usually receive antibodies from their mothers (if mother is properly vaccinated). These antibodies offer some protection from infectious diseases, though how much protection and for which diseases depends on many variables and is very difficult to predict. These maternal antibodies, however, also interfere with the action of vaccines. As puppies and kittens mature, they gradually lose their maternal antibodies and, if vaccinated, develop their own. For most individuals and most diseases, maternal antibodies begin to decrease by 6-8 weeks of age and are effectively gone by 14-16 weeks of age. As the level of maternal antibodies decreases, the young animals are at more and more risk for contracting infections until they have produced sufficient protective antibodies of their own.

For this reason, young animals must receive a series of vaccinations between 8 and 16 weeks of age. Because it cannot be determined exactly how much protection each individual has from nursing or how long that protection lasts, a series approach to vaccination maximizes the development of the patient’s own antibodies and minimizes the risk of gaps in protection as the maternal antibody levels decline.

For adult animals, the vaccines that will best protect them depends on individual circumstances. Current recommendations divide vaccines into core and non-core categories. Core vaccines are those that protect against organisms which cause severe disease, are easily transmitted between animals and are widespread in the environment. Non-core vaccines are those used for organisms that cause mild self-limiting disease and are not widespread or easily transmitted. Non-core vaccines are still appropriate to use if warranted by circumstances, but unlike core vaccines are not generally recommended for all pets

It is generally recommended all animals receive core vaccines at regular intervals and only receive non-core vaccines if the individual’s circumstances suggest the benefit outweighs the risks. Core vaccines for dogs include canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus and canine parvovirus, leptospirosis (These are combined in a vaccine we call “Distemper with Lepto” for ease of use), as well as rabies virus. Non-core vaccination includes Bordetella (kennel cough) and Lyme disease. Due to the increased prevalence of leptospirosis in the area, we vaccinate dogs with the Distemper/Leptospirosis combination vaccine annually. Core vaccines for cats include feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus, feline panleukopenia virus (FVRCP for short), and rabies virus. Non-core vaccines include Feline Leukemia virus.


  • Vaccination is an important tool that has reduced the risk and harm of infectious disease dramatically in companion animals.
  • Vaccines are highly effective at preventing infection or reducing the symptoms of a disease.
  • Puppies and kittens need a series of vaccinations between 8 and 16 weeks to develop their own protective immunity as the maternal antibodies they get from nursing disappear.
  • Which vaccines need to be given to adult animals, and how often, should be decided with the help of your Vet on the basis of unique individual lifestyle and risk factors.
  • Vaccines are generally very safe, but some adverse effects rarely occur. These are uncommon and usually easily treated, but more serious effects are possible, and the benefits of vaccination should always be weighed against the risks for each patient.
  • The fears that vaccines contain harmful toxins, that they overwhelm the immune system, or that they routinely cause serious illness are unfounded and not supported by any real evidence.







Common Myths

“You don’t need to vaccinate an old dog.” – FALSE!

Older dogs are just as susceptible to diseases and illnesses, if not even more so, as their immune systems are weaker in their old age.

“I don’t need to vaccinate my pet because there is no outbreak of the disease in this area.” –FALSE!

The reason you are not seeing any outbreaks is that of vaccinations. If we all stopped vaccinating our pets, these diseases would become prevalent again! This is called Herd Immunity. Those who are vaccinated protect those who are either too young to be vaccinated or are too ill to handle a vaccine! 

“The Vet only says I need to vaccinate my pet so they can make money.”—FALSE!

Everything your veterinarian does is to provide your pet with the best possible care that they deserve! Unfortunately, animals don’t qualify for OHIP. Therefore, as with any service, a cost is applied.

“Vaccinations give dogs autism!” – FALSE!

There are no studies to prove this in animal or human medicine. It is unheard of for a pet to get this form of behavioural disorder.

“The Distemper vaccine makes your dog calmer.” –FALSE!

Vaccines do not directly affect/change your pets’ long term behaviour. You may notice a quieter, more tired pet the same day it receives its vaccines, just like how we feel after we get ours.

“Little dogs and cats that reside inside for the majority of their day don’t need to be vaccinated.” – FALSE!

All pets need to be vaccinated against ALTEAST rabies by law. This is not surprising since rabies is such a prevalent and dangerous disease in Ontario. Just this year (2019) a woman found a rabid bat INSIDE her Guelph residence! Core vaccines are also highly recommended to help prevent other major and deadly diseases from becoming prevalent. Just because your pet is at a lower risk of contracting a disease does not mean that they won’t.


Vaccination Charts

Puppy Vaccine Chart


Adult Dog Chart


Kitten Vaccine Chart


Adult Cat Chart






If you have any questions on what vaccines your pet needs, or more questions on vaccines, your veterinarian will help! We will ask you more about your pet’s lifestyle and customize a vaccination regime for their needs! 


Photos are taken from ‘’. 

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