August is National Immunization Awareness Month! There has been a lot of debate regarding whether vaccinations are safe for both people and their pets. Read on to learn more about why vaccinating your pets is an important part of their care!
What are vaccines?
•Vaccines are designed to generate an immune response to prepare the body for future exposures to a specific disease.
If a vaccinated animal is exposed to the disease, the body will already have antibodies ready to fight off or even prevent the disease from infecting the body further.
Why does my pet need them?
• Routine vaccination is the best way to protect your pet from highly infectious and deadly diseases.
• It may seem like the risk of disease is low and unlikely, but there is often no warning when an outbreak may occur. There is also no way of knowing if your animal may be exposed to a disease before they are already sick. Many wild animals carry diseases that can easily transmit to your pet through feces and urine, while other diseases are airborne.
• While some diseases that we vaccinate our pets against are treatable, such treatments can be quite expensive. Vaccinating your pet is ultimately a more cost-effective option.
• Some diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can be spread from animals to people. Vaccinating your pets will better protect you and your family from exposure to zoonotic diseases like rabies, leptospirosis, and lyme disease that you may encounter because of not vaccinating.
Are vaccines worth the risk? What side effects are there?
• Yes, the safety of your pet greatly outweighs the risks associated with vaccinating
• Most pets have no reaction to vaccines
• FEW pets have mild, short-term reactions like local swelling at the injection site, decreased activity, decreased appetite, or mild fever
• VERY few have serious life-threatening reactions
• Your pet is often at a greater risk of disease by being unvaccinated versus undergoing the minimal risks of vaccination.
• Ask your veterinarian about possible side effects of certain vaccines and what side effects to look for after vaccination, just to be safe!
What vaccines does my pet need?
Vaccines are split up into two categories “Core” and “Non-Core”
• Core vaccines are recommended for all pets based on the severity of the disease and location. Core vaccines are considered the essential vaccines necessary for your pet.
• Non-Core vaccines may also be recommended, but vary depending on if you travel with your pet, your pet’s environment and contact with other animals, and other personal factors. Your veterinarian can determine if they recommend any of these additional vaccines for your pet based on their risk.
• As always, feel free to ask your veterinarian more about what vaccinations are recommended for your pet. They are more than willing to explain them to you and why each are important for your pet’s health
• Some vaccines, like the rabies vaccine, are required by law in some states. Indiana DOES require all dogs, cats, and ferrets to be vaccinated for rabies by a licensed, accredited veterinarian by the age of 6 months. Rabies vaccine boosters must also be completed and kept up-to-date. Your veterinarian will determine an appropriate vaccine and booster schedule to comply with these laws.
Ultimately it is your decision whether you would like to vaccinate your pets or not, but it is highly recommended to vaccinate at least for the “Core” vaccines. The purpose of vaccinations is to protect both you and your pet!
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