August Is National Vaccination Awareness Month! Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Your Pet’s Vaccinations…
Vaccinations are commonplace, both in the human medical field as well as in veterinary medicine. In veterinary medicine, vaccines have significantly reduced the incidence of many life-threatening pet diseases, such as distemper and feline leukemia. Veterinary vaccines are also critical for human health safety by preventing the incidence and transmission of deadly diseases like rabies. There is much controversy and discussion as of late in regards to vaccination, both in people and their pets. Hopefully, these commonly asked questions will shed some light as to how we determine what vaccines your pet should receive.
Q: My pet lives strictly indoors, and is under consistent supervision. Do they really need vaccines?
A: All dogs and cats should receive vaccinations that protect against several core diseases. These include distemper and other respiratory diseases, as well as rabies. After proper boosters of these vaccines as juveniles, we carefully select the diseases to continue to vaccinate against as well as the timing of these vaccines. Many vaccines can be given on a 3-year interval rather than yearly. Rabies is required by law for every dog and cat, and we require current rabies vaccination status in our hospital for the safety of our team as well as the other animals in our hospital.
Q: Aren’t vaccine titers a replacement for vaccinations?
A: A vaccine titer measures your pet’s immune response to a vaccination. Rabies titers are commonly done for pets traveling internationally. While an adequate titer indicates your pet has created a measurable immune response to a vaccine, it tells us nothing about whether your pet is protected in the event of an actual disease exposure. For this reason, most states do not recognize a rabies titer as a replacement for the vaccine in the event your pet bites a person or other animal. Your pet will still be required to undergo quarantine and other protocols as if they were not vaccinated.
Q: I am worried about my pet having a vaccine reaction. Aren’t vaccine reactions common?
A: In truth, vaccine reactions are quite rare. In our hospital, we probably see less than 5 vaccine reactions a year out of the hundreds of vaccines we give. In general, these reactions are mild and range from discomfort at the injection site to facial swelling or hives. Of course, this is not insignificant if it is your dog or cat experiencing post vaccination difficulty, but future precautions are always taken with pets that have a history of vaccine sensitivity. In short, we find that the benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risk.
Q: Will my pet’s vaccination needs change as they mature/age?
A: Quite possibly. We tailor our vaccine protocol to each individual pet. A lifestyle assessment is evaluated at every vaccination appointment to ensure your pet is properly protected while avoiding over-vaccination. We are always evaluating potential risks to your pet as well as to you, as there are diseases that your dog can give to you if left unprotected.
In summary, there is no “one size fits all” approach to vaccinations. While we emphasize your pet’s health in choosing an appropriate vaccine protocol, we are taking into consideration you and your family as well by making sure everyone is protected. We always welcome questions regarding your pet’s health, and look forward to helping you make educated decisions that will keep your pet healthy for life!