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National Immunization Awareness Month: Why You Should Vaccinate Your Pet

National Immunization Awareness Month is held every August with the purpose of raising general public awareness of the importance of immunization, both for people and for pets.  Vaccinations are actually critical to your pet’s health, as they can prevent many of the dangerous illnesses and diseases that affect pets, and even many dangerous illness and diseases that can spread from pets to people.  In fact, it has been found that vaccinating one’s pet is one of the easiest ways to assist them in living a long, healthy life.  But why exactly is this?

Why You Should Vaccinate

In order to understand why vaccines are so important to your pet’s health, one must first understand how they work.  Vaccines contain antigens which mimic a specific, disease-causing organism but don’t actually cause that disease in the body.  The immune system is stimulated by the vaccine to fight against the “invasion” of dangerous organisms, and in so doing it becomes stronger–both in general as well as specifically against these organisms.  If a vaccinated pet is then exposed to the real disease against which they have been vaccinated, their immune system can recognize and fight off, or at least reduce the severity of, the illness or disease.

While certain vaccines are obviously incredibly important and helpful, one can also see how not all pets need to be vaccinated against all manner of diseases.  This is where veterinarians are so incredibly helpful–they can direct pet owners into a vaccination protocol that is right for their pet’s specific needs, which takes into consideration their age, medical history, environment, travel habits and lifestyle.  That said, there are some basic vaccines that are considered important for all pets to receive, including:

For dogs:
● Parvovirus
● Distemper
● Hepatitis
● Rabies

For cats:
● Panleukopenia
● Calicivirus
● Herpesvirus type 1
● Rabies

Rabies is the one vaccine that is governed by individual state laws across the nation.  Some states require annual rabies vaccinations, while others require three-year rabies vaccines.  In almost every state in our country, proof of your pet’s current rabies vaccination is mandatory.

When determining the correct vaccination schedule for pets, veterinarians often consider the animal’s age and past vaccination history.  Puppies receive many helpful antibodies from their mother while nursing, and should begin to receive vaccinations when they reach between six to eight weeks of age.  At this time, they should receive three vaccinations at three to four-week intervals until they reach sixteen weeks of age.  Most adult dogs receive certain vaccinations annually, and other vaccinations every three or five years.  Kittens also receive many helpful antibodies from their mother while nursing, and should begin to receive vaccinations when they reach between six to eight weeks of age.  At this time, they should receive a series of vaccinations at three to four-week intervals until they reach sixteen weeks of age.  Most adult cats receive certain vaccinations annually, and other vaccinations every three years.

Some individuals are concerned about the risks and adverse side effects that may occur as a result of vaccinating their pet.  Because vaccinations stimulate the animal’s immune system, they can create mild and temporary side effect symptoms ranging from soreness to fever to other allergic reactions.  Veterinarians are well aware of these potential side effects, and often work hard to alleviate or minimize them as much as possible.  That said, these side effects are normally quite mild, and are certainly far less dangerous than the diseases the vaccinations are working to prevent.

If you have additional questions regarding vaccinations, which vaccinations are right for your pet or whether your pet is due for their annual vaccinations, please call us today.  In recognition of National Immunization Awareness Month we are offering 15% off all preventative care exams through August 2016!

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