GetThe Clicks Analytics

What Are the Most Common Types of Immunizations for Exotic Animals?

Every pet owner wants the best for their pet, no matter what species they are. Whether you have a common pet like a cat or a dog, or an exotic pet such as a ferret or a chameleon, giving your pet the right immunizations at an exotic animal vet is the best way to protect them and ensure they stay healthy.

Most Common Immunizations for Exotic Animals

One of the first questions exotic pet owners ask is what immunizations are the most common for their exotic pet. Of course, as every animal is different, the answers will vary based on what kind of pet you have, where you bought them from, and their age.

Across the board, there are a few immunizations that are highly recommended and given, no matter what species your pet is:


It’s generally assumed that exotic pets have a higher risk of rabies, so rabies immunizations are highly recommended. Like cats and dogs, there are commercially available rabies vaccines for ferrets. All primates housed outdoors should be vaccinated. Other species we vaccinate against rabies include skunks, coatimundis, foxes, and raccoons.


Distemper disease commonly occurs in carnivorous pets. It is caused by a paramyxovirus (RNA virus). Even when safe and in your home, there’s a risk they could catch it. Some exotic pets have an even higher chance of catching it, such as black footed ferrets, red pandas, and foxes.

Pet ferrets receive a specific distemper vaccine developed for them. For pets that do catch this disease, it is, unfortunately, almost always fatal.


Just as with humans, it’s recommended that your exotic primates and pigs get regular tetanus shots. The initial immunization requires three doses, and after that, your pet should get a booster once a year or every five years, depending on the species.


Parvoviruses such as panleukopenia, canine parvovirus, and raccoon parvovirus can be fatal to any pet that gets them, so immunizations come highly recommended.

Immunizing your pet against these diseases will reduce the chances of them getting them, but most immunizations are designed for commonly domesticated pets and may not be as efficient for an exotic animal. That does not mean these immunizations can’t help protect your pet, though and are still highly recommended.

How Do I Know Which Immunizations Are Needed?

In general, if your pet is at risk for a particular disease and there is an immunization against it, it’s worth it. When you’re looking at which immunizations are available for your pet, there are a few things to keep in mind that will help you determine if an immunization is needed:

  • How infectious the disease is
  • How fatal the disease is, if your pet catches it
  • The success rate of the immunization
  • The risk of adverse effects the immunization may have

It can be challenging to find a vet clinic that offers the necessary immunizations for your exotic pet, so if your clinic does offer certain vaccines, it’s almost always recommended that you give them to your pet. Even if you don’t think the risk of your pet catching the disease is very high, it can only protect them and help ease your mind.

Immunize Your Exotic Pet With The Exotic Animal Hospital of Orlando

Every pet deserves to live a happy and healthy life, and immunizations ensure just that. It’s crucial to find an exotic veterinarian you trust and feel confident about which immunizations to give your pet, so take your time researching before making your decision.

If there are certain immunizations that you know you want your pet to have, don’t hesitate to contact us. Being well-informed is the best way to ensure your pet gets the care it deserves.

Author: Santiago Diaz
As a veterinarian focused exclusively on avians, exotics, and wildlife, Dr. Díaz has lectured widely, including at a National Veterinary Conference, the Merck Merial Conference, the Morris Animal Foundation Conference, and at various veterinary technician schools throughout Florida. ​