All You Need to Know About Pet Vaccines and Vaccinations

Almost all pet owners will have heard about vaccinations for their pets. Still, there are many misconceptions about what vaccines are, how they work, and when they need to be given. Through this article, we hope to answer some of the questions people might have regarding vaccines and vaccinations and inform them about the laws that apply in the United Arab Emirates regarding to vaccinations.

What are vaccines, vaccinations, and how do they work?

Vaccines contain an antigen, adjuvants, preservatives, and stabilizer. Adjuvants help boost the immune response, preservatives are used to keep the vaccine effective, and stabilizers protect the vaccine during storage and transport. The antigen is a virus or bacteria in live, weakened, or killed form, or the toxins and proteins from an organism. When the contents of the vaccine enter the body, it activates the immune system. Once activated, the immune system will start producing antibodies which will attack the microorganism. During this process, the immune system will build up resistance to the specific infection and “remember” the specific organism. Due to the fact that the immune system remembers the specific organism, it can respond quicker and more efficiently when you encounter that specific organism again. Because vaccines only contain small amounts, weakened, or killed parts of the virus or bacteria, they do not cause the disease, and usually only give mild symptoms. More severe side effects are possible, but rare.

The process of administering a vaccine to help the immune system develop immunity from a disease is called vaccination. Another term often used is immunization. For pets this is done at veterinary clinics. If your pet has received a vaccination, it’s always advised to wait 10 to 15 minutes at the clinic to make sure your pet doesn’t develop a reaction to the vaccine. A sick animal should not receive vaccinations and the veterinarian should always do a health examination to ensure the pet is healthy at the moment of receiving their vaccination.

When should my dog or cat be vaccinated?

Vaccines can be divided in two categories. The core vaccines and non-core vaccines. The core vaccines are highly recommended by most vets, and all pets should receive them even if they are an indoor pet. The non-core vaccines, also referred to as lifestyle vaccines, can be recommended to you depending on the lifestyle of your pet. 

All you need to know about pet vaccines and vaccinations

Core vaccinations

The general advice is to vaccinate puppies and kittens at 6 to 8, 10 to 12, and 14 to 16 weeks old. After these initial vaccinations they should be given a FVRCP(cat) or DHPP (dog) either annually, or every 3 years depending on lifestyle, laws, and brand of vaccine. They also should have their rabies vaccine every 3 years unless laws, or the specific brand of vaccine, instruct otherwise.

Non-core vaccinations

Non-core vaccinations are to be considered if they would benefit your pet because of a certain lifestyle or are needed in a certain situation. Discuss this with your vet and follow their vaccination schedule. An example of a non-core vaccine is the FeLV vaccine for cats and Leptospirosis for dogs. An example of a vaccine that might be needed in a certain situation is the Bordetella/Kennel Cough vaccine, which is often required if you wish to board your pet at a boarding facility.

Which diseases do the core vaccines cover?


  • Feline rhinotracheitis virus/herpesvirus 1 (FVR/FHV-1)
  • Feline Calicivirus (FCV)
  • Feline Panleukopenia (FPV) 


  • Distemper
  • Hepatitis
  • Adenovirus
  • Parvovirus
  • Parainfluenza virus 


Advice for new puppy and/or kitten owners

Congratulations on your new family member. It’s always advised to take your new pet to a reputable vet for a health check. They can measure and weigh your puppy or kitten for their records, do basic checks on their health, and give you any advice you need. It’s also always advised to let them check the vaccination record/passport of your new puppy or kitten. Sadly, in some cases vaccinations are given incorrectly or get falsified, leaving your new pet unprotected against fatal diseases. Your vet will be able to determine by the passport and some questions if the vaccinations given till date are correct. And if there is any doubt they can advise on further steps.

For puppies, the advice is to avoid places where other dogs walk and gather until fully vaccinated. Ideally, only use your yard or balcony for potty breaks. If there is no other way, pick a spot where little to no other dogs come. Take into consideration any stray animals that might eliminate in the area too. The same advice applies to kittens, though the yard should be avoided as outdoor cats might have entered.

Vaccines and vaccinations

A controversial subject. Through this article we hope to have answered any questions one may have about vaccines and vaccinations. By UAE law, dogs and cats need to get their Rabies vaccine yearly. This is also a requirement to be able to register their microchip number and your details in the Dubai Municipality database and get their ID tag. Dogs also need to have their annual DHLPP vaccine and cats the FVRCP vaccine.  At Paw Pals we take care of any pet, also if they are still in the process of receiving all their vaccinations. If you would like to know more about our pet sitting, dog walking, dog training or pet relocation services – feel free to contact us.

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