Vaccinations for Dogs and Cats
Vaccines have been around for a long time. The term “vaccine” comes from the Latin word “vacca” which means cow. It was discovered that cowpox virus protected people from small pox infections. The first experimental vaccine was taking cowpox pustules and rubbing them onto people to prevent small pox.Boy have we come a long way in preventing diseases. When it comes to vaccinating our pets, there has to be several considerations taken into account.
- Is the disease endemic or epidemic in the pet’s area? Is the disease prevalent?
- How is the disease transmitted?
- Is the vaccine safe? Are there any side effects?
- What is the efficacy of the vaccine? Are most vaccinated pets protected after the vaccine?
- How dangerous is the disease?
- How is the vaccine administered?
- What is the frequency for boosters?
This is basically called a risk assessment. Each pet has their own unique environment and considerations. There is a big difference between a pet that lives completely indoors versus a pet that lives outdoors all the time. There is a difference between the multi-pet households and the single pet households. The pets that go to grooming, boarding, day care, or shows have a higher exposure to diseases. Pets in shelters probably have the highest risk of all. All the circumstances must be taken into consideration.
The American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association, and American Association of Feline Practitioners have vaccine recommendations. The vaccines are broken down into core and noncore.
Dog core vaccinations are canine distemper, parvovirus, and rabies. The noncore canine vaccines are leptospirosis, giardia, cornavirus, bordetella, and Lyme’s.
Cat core vaccinations are panleukopenia (distemper), feline viral respiratory disease complex (rhinotracheitis and calicivirus), and rabies. The noncore vaccines for cats are feline leukemia, feline immunodificiency virus, chlamydia, and bordetella,
The core vaccinations are for all pets, no matter their living circomstances. The noncore vaccines require a risk assessment. For example, canine bordetella vaccine is highly recommend for grooming, boarding, show, and/or shelters situations. Feline leukemia vaccine is highly recommended for outside cats and catteries.
In summary, pet vaccines have been around for many years. I have vaccinated many pets since 1979. And I have had some reactions with vaccines. I have also seen a lot of disease during that time that could have been prevented. I’ll take the low probability of a vaccine problems versus the diseases they prevent anytime. Talk with your veterinarian about your pet’s risk.