Why Do Pet Vaccines Matter?
Dr. Michael Paul, former president of the American Animal Hospital Association, says, “No medical development has had a greater impact on the prevention of diseases and general health of people and animals than the development of vaccines against various diseases.”
Rabies, canine distemper, and feline distemper, for example, once regularly killed pets. Dr. Paul recalls handling many such cases in his practice in the 1970s, and he himself lost many family pets as a child.
Vaccines not only protect animals; they protect people. Imagine your dog is bitten by a rabid racoon. Infected saliva from the racoon enters your pet’s system. Two scenarios can play out:
One: the rabies virus invades your dog’s brain. As the disease progresses, your dog enters the “furious” stage, which is marked by extreme changes in behaviour. Your beloved family pet becomes aggressive and bites you. His infected saliva enters your system. You need treatment, and your dog must be euthanized.
Or two: your dog has had his rabies shots; he is immediately taken to the veterinarian to have his RV boosted; he has a strong enough immune response to fight the infection. Specific antibodies launch into search-and-destroy mode to kill the disease-causing organisms.
Every year, about 59,000 people die from rabies around the world. In the United States, there are just one to three human rabies cases annually. This is why vaccinating against rabies is the law in North Carolina and most other states.
A simple vaccine turns a deadly situation into one that, while scary, is manageable. You help keep your pet, your family, and your communities safer.
Core vaccines are those which are strongly recommended to keep your pet safe and healthy. Ensuring your dog or cat is protected from these diseases helps prevent costly veterinary bills, or worse, the illness and possible death of your furry companion. We monitor and update vaccination recommendations as new diseases emerge in our area.
Even if they are not strictly mandated by law, you’ll need proof of core vaccines to utilize services, such as pet daycare, boarding, and dog parks.
For dogs, these are:
- Feline leukemia (for outdoor cats)
- Feline rhinotracheitis
- Feline calicivirus
- Feline panleukopenia
What About Non-Core Vaccines?
Should you just opt to get every canine or feline vaccine known to man to protect your pet? Not necessarily. Vaccines are designed to produce an immune response; in some animals, this can cause temporary side effects, such as lethargy and loss of appetite.
The best course of action is to consult with your veterinarian about which options deliver the best protection for your pet given their lifestyle, age, and geography (e.g. you may want to consider a canine Lyme disease vaccine if you live in North Carolina, where it is becoming more common).
Safe Choices for Safe Pets
Vaccine technology is safe; the vast majority of pets experience no or very minimal temporary side effects.
Are your pets due for any vaccinations? Contact the Avery Creek Pet Hospital team to make sure your dog or cat is up to date.