A big part of owning a pet is the responsibility that comes with it. Pets are generally quite easy to care for. When it comes to food and giving them a place to run around, there are usually no problems that pet owners face while providing these basic needs to their loving pets.
There is one surprising area that many tend to ignore, however, and that is making sure that their pet has had all the proper vaccinations. Just like people, there is always a risk, however slight, that a dangerous or life-threatening disease can afflict a pet. It is a risk that is easily negated by getting the standard course of vaccinations that are recommended by your veterinary clinic.
“… the dog is the main reservoir of the rabies virus. Ninety percent of human cases around the world are due to dog bites, and without treatment is invariably fatal. Many of the victims are children. The only reason we can indulge ourselves in the luxury of debating whether or not the vaccine should be optional is because the vaccine has been so effective in controlling rabies here in the U.S. The virus is still here—it can infect almost any mammal—but is mainly found in wildlife, such as bats, raccoons, and skunks,” stated PetMD.
What Vaccinations Should Your Pet Get?
There are many vaccinations available for pets. In fact, if you see the list of possibilities, you may even be surprised at the number. Luckily, most of them are optional, regional, for particular species, and so on.
But there are a few that are commonly recommended by veterinarians all over the United States. We recently visited a vet in Maine to talk about this issue and were told that there are many more vaccines that are recommended than just the one for rabies.
For dogs, the following shots are on the list of recommendations: rabies, canine parvovirus, canine distemper, leptospirosis, coronavirus, hepatitis, adenovirus, lyme, and bortadella.
While all of these are important, note that when any immunization is introduced to the body, there is a risk of infection. And there is always room for a negative reaction from the body.
For example, some pet owners are choosing to not vaccinate their dogs and cats because they believe the immunizations cause seizures, allergies, and other issues.
Deciding which of these is important for you and your pet is largely dependent on where you live and how much exposure your animal has to other dogs. If you have a lap dog, for example, that is always in the house or on the end of a leash, chances are that the dog will never meet certain diseases. That means the dog shouldn’t be subjected to the risks associated with the unnecessary immunization.
For cats, the list is shorter. But the same rules for how often you should immunize and which immunizations to choose for your pet apply. Rabies is the most common and is one that should never be forgone.
Other immunizations to consider are feline leukemia, distemper, and calcivirus, which is a serious respiratory disease. Feline panleukopenia as is the feline herpesvirus vaccine is also considered to be quite important, as the disease is life-threatening.
Vaccinations to Avoid
It is very difficult to determine exactly which vaccines to avoid as the effects are different in different animals and in different situations. One thing that you should note, however, is that there is quite an industry built around the vaccination business. That means the recommended vaccines and vaccine schedules may not always reflect the actual needs of the animals taking on the shots.
As a general rule for all animals (and humans as well for that matter), immunizations should be given only as much as they are needed and no more. If you think that you are being asked to immunize too much, there are two things that you can do.
One is to seek a second opinion, for which you will need detailed immunization records to show the second vet. The other option is to get a titer test that checks for the levels of the current immunizations.
Pet Vaccinations are Good for Your Pet and the Public
If you are still on the fence about whether to get your animal vaccinated, just remember that your decision is less about personal preference and more about social responsibility. When you vaccinate your pet, your pet not only benefits from not getting sick from illnesses, such as rabies, but the animals that your pet meets also benefit, as do the people that are nearby.
Looking at rabies as an example, most rabies cases that have led to human injury and the subsequent destruction of the animal, were caused by the owner failing to get the animal vaccinated. Even when human injury is not an issue, many diseases are transmissible to other animals and humans, which means that failing to get the proper pet vaccines, you are helping dangerous infections spread.
It is important to get your animal vaccinated, but it is also your responsibility to keep your animal safe and happy. Therefore, striking the right balance between getting enough immunizations and not getting too many is a decision that should not be taken lightly. While some immunizations are quite benign in any quantity, others can put a lot if undue stress and strain on an animal’s system, which they should not have to endure unless they have to. Do you get your dog or cat vaccinated? Why or why not?