Furry family members mean almost as much to you as their human counterparts â if not just as much. Why wouldnât 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 petâs safety, itâs critical to understand how they work.
Here are some of the most common questions, and their answers.
How Do Vaccines Work?
Vaccines administer a very low dose of a pathogen to a pet, so that their immune system can âlearnâ to fight it. When a virus or bacteria enters the animalâs 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 donât receive booster shots regularly, may lose part or all of their previous immunity.
Thatâs why the concept of âherd immunityâ is so important. When the entire population susceptible to a particular disease is vaccinated, the disease canât find a foothold. Therefore, even if an animal didnât have 100 percent immunity, it wouldnât matter, because other animals couldnât get infected and pass it on.
However, todayâs reports show that not nearly enough animals are getting vaccinated. Letâs all work to change that.
Which Vaccines Does My Pet Need?
Your pet needs âcoreâ vaccines and may need ânon-coreâ 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. Also, your dog may be exposed to ticks, which means he or she needs a Lyme vaccine to begin building immunity.
Other vaccines for dogs include:
- Leptospirosis (spread by wild animal urine)
- Bordatella (if your dog is in constant contact with other dogs at a kennel, daycare, groomer or dog park)
- Influenza (if your dog is at risk to develop this upper respiratory infection, or if your boarding facility requires it)
Are There Side Effects to Vaccinating?
Usually, no. Vaccines are safe and well-vetted, and weâve 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 theyâve 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 petâs life, and thereâs nothing for you to worry about.
Want to learn more about vaccinating today? Feel free to get in touch with us at (781) 255-5151!