Furry family members mean almost as much to you as their human counterparts – if not just as much. Why wouldn’t you, therefore, give them all the same tools to live long, stay strong and experience maximum health?
Of course you would, and vaccines are an inescapable part of any pet health plan. They help animals fight disease before it takes hold, and keep pet populations as a whole safe from infection. To see exactly why vaccines are so important and how best to ensure your pet’s safety, it’s critical to understand how they work.
Here are some of the most common questions, and their answers.
Vaccinating your pet is a relatively inexpensive but very important way to protect his or her health. In addition to preventing many life-threatening illnesses, vaccinations can prevent diseases prevalent in wildlife and those that can be passed to humans. It’s important to administer vaccinations when pets are puppies and kittens because their young immune systems are still developing and need protection to stay healthy.
Which vaccines should your pet have? “Core” vaccines are those recommended—and possibly mandated by law—for most pets. Core vaccines include:
- Rabies (dogs and cats)
- DA2PPV – Distemper, Hepatitis, Adenovirus 2, Parvo and Parainfluenza (dogs)
- FVRCP – Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (cats)
Other non-core, but highly suggested vaccinations for cats include FeLV to protect against feline leukemia. For dogs, bordetella and canine influenza shots are recommended if they frequent dog parks, boarding kennels, or any place where they’re socializing with other canines.
It’s also important to note that even pets who live primarily indoors should be vaccinated, as they can still be exposed to disease. Your Cottman Animal Hospital veterinarian can advise you which vaccinations are required or recommended for your pet based on age, health, and lifestyle. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 215-745-9030.
How Do Vaccines Work?
Vaccines administer a very low dose of a pathogen to a pet, so that their immune system can “learn” to fight it. When a virus or bacteria enters the animal’s body for the first time, they will not possess an immunity, but introducing the disease prompts their system to manufacture antibodies to help fight it, explains the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Those antibodies then live in their bloodstream from then on, so should they encounter that pathogen in real life, full-strength, they will already have the tools to fight it.
Will My Pet Be 100 Percent Immune?
This is a tricky question. Some animals who receive vaccines do develop total immunity. Others only develop partial immunity. Still others, if they don’t receive booster shots regularly, may lose part or all of their previous immunity.
That’s why the concept of “herd immunity” is so important. When the entire population susceptible to a particular disease is vaccinated, the disease can’t find a foothold. Therefore, even if an animal didn’t have 100 percent immunity, it wouldn’t matter, because other animals couldn’t get infected and pass it on.
However, today’s reports show that not nearly enough animals are getting vaccinated. Let’s all work to change that.
Which Vaccines Does My Pet Need?
Your pet needs “core” vaccines and may need “non-core” vaccines. Core vaccines for dogs include canine parvovirus, canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis and rabies. Core inoculations for cats include feline panleukopenia, feline calicivirus, feline rhinotracheitis and rabies.
Depending on your individual dog or cat, your vet may recommend other vaccines as well. For instance, if your cat is at risk of developing feline leukemia, your vet may advise a vaccine to help combat the chance.
Are There Side Effects to Vaccinating?
Usually, no. Vaccines are safe and well-vetted, and we’ve been using the same ones on dogs and cats for years. At most, pets may experience a bit of mild fever or discomfort associated with the low dose of the disease they’ve received. In rare cases, however, you may notice a serious allergic reaction: itching and swelling of the skin and face, vomiting and diarrhea, or difficulty breathing. If you notice any of this, please seek veterinary assistance right away.
Mostly, though, vaccinations are a routine part of any pet’s life, and there’s nothing for you to worry about.
Want to learn more about vaccinating today? Feel free to get in touch with us at (215) 745-9030!