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Our four-legged friends can be prone to preventable diseases, either from a trip to the dog park, walking around the neighbourhood, or if we’ve unknowingly brought a virus pathogen home on our clothing.

That’s why keeping up to date with scheduled pet vaccinations for your cat or dog is vital to building their immune system early and maintaining their health in their older years. This protects your pet and provides optimum ‘herd immunity’ to reduce the likelihood of infectious disease outbreaks.

We cover everything you need to know about pet vaccinations.

Why should my pet get vaccinated?

While medications can help your pet get better, vaccinations help prevent your fur babies from getting sick in the first place. What’s more, some vaccine-preventable illnesses can be deadly and aren’t treatable with medications or covered by pet insurance.

Dog and cat vaccinations protect your pet from life-threatening diseases, as well as other pets − and even yourself since some pet diseases can be transmitted to humans.

Furthermore, medications may need to be taken repeatedly, which adds to the overall cost of caring for your pet. In contrast, a preventative vaccination may only need to be taken once a year.

Core and non-core pet vaccinations

Some vaccinations are known as core vaccines because they protect your pet against deadly or debilitating diseases. While core vaccines are deemed essential, non-core vaccines may be prescribed if your dog or cat is susceptible to illnesses or diseases due to their breed or inherited genetic predispositions.1

Most vaccinations are done when your pet is a puppy or kitten, followed by boosters and check-ups as needed. Your vet should prescribe a vaccination program based on your pet’s lifestyle and environment.

Keep in mind that while core vaccines for dogs and cats are considered safe, low incidences of adverse reactions like injection site sarcoma in cats exist. Still, the benefits of vaccinations to protect your pet from severe or even fatal diseases significantly outweigh the risk of side effects.

Cat vaccinations

What vaccinations do cats and kittens need?

Some typically prescribed kitten and cat vaccinations include:

  • F3 vaccine. This vaccination combination covers the ‘big three’ cat diseases: cat flu or Feline Panleukopenia (also called Feline parvovirus or Feline Infectious Enteritis), Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus and Feline Calicivirus.
  • FIV vaccine. A non-core vaccination, the FIV vaccine protects against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.
  • FeLV. This non-core vaccination protects against Feline Leukaemia Virus.2

Kitten vaccinations should be administered from six or eight weeks of age, and typically followed by a booster vaccine every two to four weeks until they reach 16 weeks.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) also recommends that cats get a booster vaccine at six months to ensure an adequate immune response in cats who didn’t respond well to the F3 vaccine. Adult cats also require a core vaccination booster every one to three years.3

In addition, you may be able to vaccinate your cat against other ailments, including rabies, Chlamydia Felis and Bordetella Bronchiseptica. There are also other common cat diseases you need to be aware of.4

How much do cat vaccinations cost?

Vaccinations for cats and kittens will differ depending on the type of vaccination and the vet. On top of that, initial vaccinations can be more expensive than a second vaccination or follow-up boosters. You may be paying up to a couple of hundred dollars for cat vaccination costs when getting multiple vaccinations at once, or within a short period.

a kitten receives a vaccination

How much do kitten vaccinations cost?

Vaccinations for kittens could cost between $170 to $200, with annual vaccination check-ups costing roughly $80, according to the RSPCA.5

The figures above are intended as a guide. Veterinary costs will differ depending on your pet’s healthcare needs and the veterinary practice you visit. You can contact your vet to ask about vaccination costs for your cat.

That said, the price and benefits of vaccinating your kitten or cat can typically outweigh the cost of treatment should your animal fall sick. Contact your local vet to inquire about vaccination protocol, prices and what your cat may need.

Dog vaccinations

What vaccinations do dogs and puppies need?

Some canine diseases and viruses can be fatal, but vaccinations are available to help prevent illnesses from affecting your beloved puppy or adult dog. Canine vaccines include:

  • C3 vaccine. The core vaccine for canines, C3 covers deadly diseases such as Canine Distemper, Canine Parvovirus and Canine Adenovirus (also called Canine Hepatitis).
  • KC. This non-core vaccine protects your pooch against canine cough, also known as kennel cough (Bordetella Bronchieseptica and Parainfluenza Virus).6

As a general rule, the first core vaccines should be given at six or eight weeks of age, followed by a booster vaccine every two to four weeks until they reach 16 weeks of age. Adult dogs may require annual boosters. Your vet will prescribe a vaccination schedule for your pooch during their annual health check-up.7

Along with these common preventative treatments, additional non-core dog vaccinations may be recommended by your vet, depending on your dog’s exposure risk. For example, the Leptospirosis vaccine may be recommended for dogs that regularly go outside, while small breed dogs and dogs that live in urban environments may not need this. Other common dog diseases may not have a vaccine, but it’s important to know about them.

How much do dog vaccinations cost?

As with cat vaccinations, the cost of immunising your puppy or dog will differ based on the vaccine required, which vet you visit and whether you’re after a batch of initial vaccinations or just a booster. It’s best to budget for a few hundred dollars just to be safe.

a vet giving a dog a vaccination

How much do puppy vaccinations cost?

Initial puppy vaccinations could cost you $170 to $250, with yearly check-up vaccinations costing approximately $90, according to the RSPCA.8 Dog and puppy vaccination costs will vary depending on your pet’s healthcare needs and which vet administers the vaccinations. You can contact your vet to inquire about how much vaccinating your puppy or dog could cost you.

Does pet insurance cover vaccinations for cats and dogs?

You can get insurance for dog and cat vaccines with comprehensive pet insurance – the highest level of coverage available – when it includes a routine care add-on.

Routine care is an optional extra that allows you to claim back a portion of the cost of vaccinating your pet and other routine treatments such as de-sexing, microchipping, teeth cleaning and worming. Behavioural training may also be available through routine care cover. Just keep in mind that claims for vaccination expenses will be subject to any policy excess and benefit percentage that applies to your policy.

Frequently asked questions

Should I still vaccinate my cat or dog if they don’t go outside?

The decision to vaccinate a pet is up to each individual pet owner, though veterinarians commonly recommend it for reasons listed above. If you have an indoor cat or dog that doesn’t leave the house, they can still potentially get sick with a preventable disease if pathogens are carried into the indoor environment.

Is worming similar to vaccinations?

Worming and vaccination treatments work differently. Vaccines are a preventative medicine used to provide immunity in pets to stop them from contracting certain illnesses. Worming treatments typically interrupt the life cycle of worms or other parasites to ensure they are eliminated or remain within tolerable, harmless levels.

Worming doesn’t give your pet immunity, so you’ll typically need to administer medication regularly as a preventative measure. There are also medications available that can deal with worms if your dog already has them, as well as other illnesses and diseases.

When can my puppy start socialising after getting vaccinated?

Most vets recommend keeping your puppy away from other dogs until they’re fully vaccinated (or have at least had their core vaccines). Allow a few weeks for the vaccinations to take effect and for your dog to build enough antibodies/immunity to ward off infections. This means the recommended time for taking your puppy to the dog park can vary, though it’s typically a couple of weeks after their final vaccination.

Do cats and dogs need the same vaccinations?

Generally, cats and dogs don’t need the same vaccinations, as the diseases their core and non-core vaccines protect against are unique to their species.

However, cats and dogs can have similar symptoms to different ailments. This may include sneezing and coughing, difficulty breathing for respiratory diseases (e.g Canine Distemper Virus, or Feline Herpesvirus), loss of appetite and diarrhoea.

Do I need to keep a pet vaccination record?

When going to the vet for the first time, you’ll typically receive a pet health record, which vets will use to list your pet’s vaccinations. This may be an electronic record or a physical booklet.

When you adopt or buy a pet, particularly when it’s older, you should inquire from the breeder or adoption agency about what health records they have for the animal. Your pet’s medical and health information will be required when taking out pet insurance or going to an animal hospital.

Can I lower my pet insurance excess?

You may have the option of choosing a lower excess on your pet insurance. Excess payments are made when you lodge a claim and lowering them can reduce the cost of making a claim. However, reducing your excess typically increases your regular pet insurance premiums.

Are you ready to compare?

If you’re looking for pet insurance – including a routine care optional extra that can cover vaccinations – we offer policies from multiple insurers.

Our pet insurance comparison tool lets you compare quotes from various pet insurance providers across Australia in minutes.


1 RSPCA − All you need to know about pet vaccinations. Accessed March 2023.

2 RSPCA − What vaccinations should my cat receive? Accessed March 2023.

3 World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Vaccination Guidelines. Accessed March 2023.

4 RSPCA − What vaccinations should my cat receive? Accessed March 2023.

5 RSPCA New South Wales – Costs. Accessed March 2023.

6 RSPCA − What vaccinations should my dog receive? Accessed March 2023.

7 RSPCA − What vaccinations should my dog receive? Accessed March 2023.

8 RSPCA New South Wales – Costs. Accessed March 2023.

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