August is Vaccination Awareness Month! Why should you vaccinate your pet? Not only is it beneficial to their health, but to the health of the people and other animals that they may interact with.
#1: Vaccines protect against deadly transmissible diseases
Dogs and cats are vulnerable to various contagious, disease-causing organisms (i.e., pathogens) that exist naturally in the environment. Vaccination is the most effective preventive health measure against these diseases and has saved countless pets’ lives since routine vaccination became common. Thanks to vaccination, heartbreaking diseases, including parvovirus and distemper in dogs, panleukopenia (i.e., feline distemper), and leukemia in cats, are entirely preventable tragedies.
#2: Vaccines strengthen your pet’s immune system
Your pet’s initial exposure to a deadly contagious disease can happen in one of two ways:
- Natural exposure — Your pet’s immune system may recognize the virus as a foreign invader, and make specific antibodies to attack and neutralize the invasion. Alternatively, the foreign pathogen may overwhelm your pet’s immune system, resulting in no response, or a delayed response that makes your pet ill.
- Vaccination — A vaccination contains a tiny, inactivated amount of virus. The immune system studies the foreign substance and develops antibodies, without the simultaneous threat of disease. When your pet is later naturally exposed to the virus, the immune system rapidly recognizes the problem and responds immediately and effectively.
Vaccination is a safe way to stimulate your pet’s immunity without risking infection and illness. While healthy pets may fight off certain diseases naturally, most devoted pet owners would prefer not to gamble with their pet’s health.
#3: Your pet’s vaccines improve public health
Several diseases commonly vaccinated against are zoonotic (i.e., they can be passed from animals to humans). Rabies virus, which can be transmitted to humans through an infected animal’s bite, is the most well-known zoonotic example. Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease affecting the liver and kidneys, is another zoonotic threat. By vaccinating the pet population, the risk of a widespread outbreak in the pet or human population is diminished.
For example, rabies is 100 percent fatal once signs appear, so a potential outbreak could be catastrophic, making preventive vaccinations essential for animal and public health. Rabies vaccinations for pets are mandated by many state and local laws.
#4: Vaccines can extend your pet’s life
Pets may survive illness and disease, but they often suffer lifelong effects well after their recovery. Puppies and kittens often develop poorly, which leads to weakness, pain, and inability to thrive. Pets with a history of chronic illness tend to have weaker immune systems, predisposing them to additional medical conditions.
Vaccinated pets typically enjoy robust health. Puppies and kittens grow and flourish, and their successful early development helps ensure good health and resilience against disease as adults.
#5: Vaccines are cost-effective pet care
Vaccination is the most economical veterinary care available. Hospitalization and treatment bills for sick pets can quickly reach the thousands, and may still not be enough to save the pet. An entire lifetime of vaccines is far less expensive and avoids the devastating heartache, guilt, and grief of losing a pet to a preventable illness.
#6: Your pet’s vaccine examination may detect early disease and improve outcomes
When your pet visits our hospital for annual or semi-annual vaccines, their physical examination may reveal early warning signs for other, unpreventable diseases, including diabetes, cancer, thyroid disease, and osteoarthritis.
Early intervention and treatment for these diseases and many others allow your pet to live a more comfortable, pain-free life. Early treatment may delay terminal diseases, giving you additional years that you may not have had without keeping your pet up to date on their vaccinations.
#7: Vaccinations allow your pet to be social, well-mannered, and well-groomed
Boarding, training, and grooming facilities usually require certain vaccinations to use their facilities or services. Pet owners should always plan ahead for emergencies, knowing that boarding facilities and pet-sitting services likely will not accept unvaccinated or under-vaccinated pets.
Our veterinarians will make vaccine recommendations based on your pet’s age, health, vaccine record, and lifestyle. While some vaccinations, like rabies, are mandatory, our veterinarians may add or remove others from your pet’s protocol. If your pet has reacted to any vaccine in the past, let us know. Vaccine side effects are rare, and typically mild, but some pets experience an allergic reaction or gastrointestinal signs.
Vaccinations often take a back seat to the more exciting aspects of veterinary medicine. We believe “boring” appointments are the best kind, because they show your pet is in great health, and receiving the benefit of comprehensive preventive care.
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Posted: August 05, 2022