WSAVA updates global guidelines for vaccination

Newly revised vaccination guidelines for dogs and cats suggest the leptospirosis vaccine should be considered “core” for dogs in regions where the disease is endemic. Also, the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) vaccine is now recommended as “core” for young cats and adult cats that have outdoor access or live with other cats that have outdoor access, in places where FeLV is prevalent.

On April 8, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) published its updated Global Vaccination Guidelines, which are available to download from the WSAVA website, following peer review coordinated by the Journal of Small Animal Practice.

The WSAVA Vaccination Guidelines Group (VGG) started working on the updated document in 2022. Previous guidelines were published in 2007, 2010, and 2016. The updated version addresses current issues in canine and feline vaccinology and proposes practical steps to enhance the rational use of vaccines in these species, according to a WSAVA announcement.

An orange cat receives a vaccine
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s newly revised Global Vaccination Guidelines offer national small animal veterinary associations, veterinary practices, and individual veterinarians comprehensive and scientifically supported advice about the vaccination of dogs and cats.

The updated document includes the following changes:

  • A revised definition of “core” vaccines with rationale for those revisions.
  • A new section dealing specifically with maternally derived antibodies.
  • A renewed section on current and emerging topics in canine and feline clinical vaccinology.
  • A rewritten section on “Vaccines in shelters and sanctuaries.”
  • Deletion of the previously included section on “passive immunisation,” so as to sharpen focus on prophylactic vaccines.
  • Further discussion of the recommendation to vaccinate puppies and kittens with selected core vaccines at 26 weeks or older rather than waiting until 12 to 16 months of age.
  • Further consideration of anatomical sites for vaccination of cats.
  • A new list of frequently asked questions (FAQs), categorized by topic, that can serve as a resource for addressing common questions that veterinarians may encounter.
Dr. Mary Marcondes
Dr. Mary Marcondes

“The guidelines provide valuable resources for veterinarians to incorporate into their daily practice,” said Dr. Mary Marcondes, chair of the WSAVA VGG. “Despite its comprehensive 40-page length, the document is designed for easy reference, featuring succinct tables for quick consultation and sections divided into different topics to aid consultation on specific subjects.”

WSAVA strongly recommends that all dogs and cats should be vaccinated. This will not only protect individual animals, but will help minimize the risk of contagious disease outbreaks.

The VGG has also produced sets of Regional Vaccination Guidelines for veterinarians in Asia and Latin America  In 2026, it will publish a full set of Regional Vaccination Guidelines for Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the announcement.

“We should aim to vaccinate every dog and cat with the core vaccines,” the VGG said in a statement. “Selected non-core vaccines may be recommended after careful consideration of each pet’s lifestyle and local prevalence of vaccine-manageable diseases. Core and non-core vaccines should be stored and administered correctly, and used only as frequently as necessary to provide lifelong protection against the diseases that threaten dogs and cats, wherever they live or travel.”

The VGG comprises Drs. Marcondes, associate professor of small animal internal medicine and infectious diseases at São Paulo State University in Brazil; Richard Squires, associate professor in companion animal medicine at James Cook University in Australia; Cynda Crawford, clinical associate professor in shelter medicine at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine; and Nathaniel Whitley, clinical director at Davies Veterinary Specialists in the U.K.