Vaccinating your cat or dog is one of the most important steps of being a responsible pet owner. Puppies and kittens need vaccinations to protect them from serious diseases just like children do. Adult dogs and cats need annual boosters to keep them healthy as well. The exact vaccinations that your pet needs can vary by breed, age, medical history, environment, travel habits and lifestyle.

Vaccines help prepare the body’s immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which look like the disease-causing organism to the immune system, but don’t actually cause disease. When the vaccine is introduced to the body, the immune system is mildly stimulated. If a pet is ever exposed to the real disease, their immune system is now prepared to recognize and fight it off entirely or reduce its severity.

Vaccines are a modified form of the virus itself. Many vaccines are either “modified live,” which means that the virus particles are still active, only disabled, or killed, meaning that the virus particles are no longer active. The virus’ tendency to mutate will determine which kind of vaccine will be produced.

The core vaccinations that every dog should receive are canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies. Puppies need a series of at least four shots to completely protect them from parvo and other potentially fatal diseases. A combined dose (Da2ppv) is usually given that prevents canine distemper, Adenovirus Type 1 (hepatitis), Adenovirus Type 2 (respiratory disease), parainfluenza and parvovirus. Another combined dose available is the DHLPP vaccination, which prevents distemper, hepatitis (CAV-2), leptospirosis, parainfluenza and parvovirus.

The core vaccinations for felines are panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calicivirus, feline herpes virus type I (rhinotracheitis) and rabies. These are usually administered in one combined dose (FVRCP), however, it takes a series of multiple shots to completely protect a cat or dog from disease.

If only one part of the series is administered, your pet will still be vulnerable. Puppies shouldn’t be taken for walks or to parks and other public areas until they are fully vaccinated.

If you board your pet or take your pet to the groomers or dog parks, you’ll need to get the Bordetella vaccination to protect them from kennel cough.

Rabies vaccinations can be given at 3 months of age and can only be administered by a veterinarian. Proof of a rabies vaccination is required in order to license your pet. California requires that animals be vaccinated against rabies and licensed according to their city/county ordinance.

Valley Oak SPCA is a 501(c)3 non-profit, no-kill rescue that operates solely on donations and contributions from our local community. To make an online donation or submit a volunteer application, please visit our website:

To visit us in person, come to our Adoption Center at 29010 Hwy 99, located in the three modular trailers on the frontage road of northbound Highway 99 in Visalia. Open Monday, Thursday, Friday, 12 p.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday, Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Valley Oak SPCA Adoption Center Hours
Monday, Thursday, Friday: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday

Pet of the Month

Xander – This sweet, loving senior is looking for a forever family to live his golden years with. Xander is very loyal and will always want to be by your side. If you’re interested in adopting Xander, he’s waiting for you at the Valley Oak SPCA Adoption Center! If interested, contact Valley Oak SPCA at 559-651-1111.

Pet of the Month - Xander