April 20, 2024

Veterinary Vaccines: Protecting Pets and Livestock

Introduction to Veterinary Vaccines
Vaccines are one of the most important tools in veterinary medicine for preventing infectious diseases in pets and livestock. They work by exposing the immune system to antigens from a killed or weakened pathogen. This exposure triggers the immune system to produce antibodies to that pathogen without causing clinical infection or disease. In many cases, this immune response provides long-term protection against the targeted disease.

Common Vaccines for Dogs and Cats

Rabies Vaccine
Rabies vaccination is required by law for most pet dogs and cats as rabies is a fatal viral disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans. The rabies vaccine induces the production of rabies virus-neutralizing antibodies to prevent clinical rabies disease if the animal is exposed to the virus. Initial puppy and kitten vaccines are given starting at 12-16 weeks of age followed by booster vaccines at 1 and 3 years, then every 3 years after.

Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza Vaccines
These combination vaccines protect dogs against some of the most common and serious viral diseases including canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus types 1 and 2, canine parvovirus, and canine parainfluenza virus. Puppies receive a series of vaccines starting at 6-8 weeks of age and continuing every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks. Annual boosters are recommended to maintain immunity.

Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Vaccines
Given the potential severity and chronic nature of feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency (FIV) virus infections, vaccines are available to protect against these viruses in cats. The FeLV vaccine is a live but weakened virus vaccine which provides long-term immunity with a single dose while the FIV vaccine requires an initial series of 3 doses. Annual FeLV boosters are recommended.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica Vaccine
This vaccine protects dogs against kennel cough caused by the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica which can lead to respiratory infections when dogs are boarded or daycare facilities. It lessens the severity of clinical signs but may not completely prevent infection. Annual boosters are recommended.

Coronavirus and Giardia Vaccines
Coronavirus can cause diarrhea in puppies and kittens while Giardia intestinalis is a common intestinal parasite of cats and dogs. Vaccines against these pathogens provide protection against severe disease, in some cases completely preventing infection. Initial puppy/kitten series with optional annual boosters.

Vaccines for Livestock

Clostridial Diseases Vaccines
Clostridial diseases pose serious health and economic risks to livestock worldwide and include blackleg, malignant edema, tetanus, entertoxemia and pulpy kidney disease. Multivalent injectable clostridial vaccines containing various inactivated clostridial bacterial toxoids are routinely given to cattle, horses, sheep and goats. Initial series followed by annual or biennial boosters.

Leptospirosis Vaccine
Leptospirosis caused by Leptospira bacteria is an important zoonotic disease of livestock and companion animals. Vaccines contain inactivated leptospires to generate a protective immune response and lessen clinical signs if exposed. Annual boosters recommended for cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and horses at risk.

Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) Vaccines
PRRS and PED are important viral swine pathogens which can devastate pig farms and lead to significant economic losses. Vaccination uses modified live or killed vaccines to induce immunity and reduce severity of disease. Proper husbandry practices also critical in preventing outbreaks.

Brucellosis Vaccine
Brucellosis, caused by Brucella bacteria, is a zoonotic disease that can cause abortions in cattle, pigs, goats and sheep. In non-pregnant heifers a reduced dose Brucella abortus strain 19 vaccine provides partial protection before first calving. Annual testing and vaccination programs have successfully reduced Brucellosis prevalence in many countries.

Improving Vaccine Efficacy

Vaccine efficacy depends on multiple factors. Use of high quality, well-researched vaccines is critical. Ensuring proper handling, transport and storage conditions preserves vaccine potency. Administering vaccines according to recommended schedules is important to induce full protective immunity. Good husbandry practices as well as avoidance of stress and nutritional deficiencies also support optimal vaccine responses in animals. Furthermore, monitoring for vaccine-preventable diseases and making adjustments as needed helps continually improve vaccine programs efficiency and success. With diligent use of veterinary vaccines we can continue preventing many of the infectious diseases that threaten the health and productivity of pets and livestock worldwide.


  1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
  2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it