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Vaccination for Pets

Why vaccinate your pets?

  • Vaccination gives your pet immunity to diseases that are hard to treat, possibly fatal and/or with long term health consequences.
  • Vaccines utilize the dog, cat or rabbits own immune system to prevent disease
  • The vaccines we use have very few if any side effects and adverse responses are very rarely seen.
  • Vaccination visits also give your veterinarian a chance to evaluate your pet’s general health and ensure unrecognised or early signs of disease are recognised and treated.

What are we vaccinating for?


The core vaccine for cats includes:

  • Herpes and Calici virus – Cat flu or Snuffles virus’s that cause runny eyes, sneezing, blocked nasal passages, mouth ulcerations, conjunctivitis and eye ulcerations.
  • Panleucapaenia virus – Feline enteritis which is a gastrointestinal disease, causing diarrhoea and immune depression similar to parvovirus in dogs

Recommended but non-core:

  • Feline Aids – Similar to human HIV virus this virus damages the immune system allowing other diseases to flourish.


The core vaccine in dogs includes:

  • Parvovirus – infectious diarrhoea/enteritis
  • Distemper – neurological virus,
  • Canine Hepatitis – infectious viral liver disease
  • Parainfluenza – viral respiratory disease causing cough and lung disease. This is one of the “Kennel Cough” or “Infectious Canine Cough” causative agents

Recommended but non-core:

  • Bordetella Bronchiseptica – One of the causes of Kennel Cough or Infectious Canine Cough
  • Leptospirosis – A bacterial disease affecting kidneys. Very few diagnosed cases in the South Island so not routinely used.

When to vaccinate

Puppies and Kittens need to start their vaccination program between 6-8 weeks and ideally finish between 14-16 weeks. Each animal will have a different risk profile so contacting your local clinic regarding when to start is a good idea. Your vet will then work out the best protocol for your animal.  

It is ideal to vaccinate prior to the pups or kittens leaving mum as this is a high stress time and many disease processes start when animals are under stress

Should I Vaccinate a Pregnant Animal?

Current advice is to not vaccinate pregnant breeding animals as this causes the pups or kittens to have a lot of passive immunity from the mum’s colostrum and this can interfere with the vaccinations effectiveness. This can leave animals still vulnerable to disease despite vaccinating.


Calici Virus or Rabbit Haemorrhagic Virus is the only vaccine available for rabbits. Haemorrhagic Virus is very quickly fatal and spread by wild rabbits and flies that have been in contact with infected rabbits.

The vaccine should be used in all outdoor rabbits and started at around 8 weeks of age. A final shot can be given at 12 weeks then boosted annually.

We run specific days for rabbit vaccinations so keep an eye out on our Facebook page or enquire at your local clinic.

About the author

North Canterbury Vets are a mixed practice which deals with dairy cows, beef, sheep, deer, horses and alpacas as well as companion animals. Our team has an ethical focus to assist in developing and growing our clients' businesses and providing quality health care to ensure that their livestock and pets live healthy and productive lives.

Our Clinics

North Canterbury Veterinary Clinics operates four clinics throughout the Hurunui region.