The topic of vaccination is one that comes up regularly in pets. Each year, the American Animal Hospital Association updates their guidelines and recommendations for dog and cat vaccines based on specific diseases and risks. In addition, veterinarians now only give vaccines that are tailored to your pet’s individual need based on geographical location, as well as risk. Ongoing research determined that certain vaccines can be given at longer intervals, meaning that some vaccines are now given every three years as opposed to every one year.
Cat owners are often surprised to hear that indoor cats should be vaccinated. Some cat diseases that can be prevented through vaccination are air borne viruses. Other diseases can be transmitted to your cat through your hands or clothing if you have been around a cat that is sick with a specific disease. Cats are unique in that they tend to sdevelop reactions at the site of injections. Earlier types of cat vaccines were linked to a higher risk of developing tumors at the site of vaccination. With new technology, vaccine types called Non Adjuvated vaccines, (ones that do not contain any irritating chemicals) create little to no risk of tumor formation.
One of the most deadly and potentially fatal diseases in dogs, cats, and humans is rabies. In 1885, the first dog vaccine for rabies was developed by Louis Pasteur. The routine use of rabies vaccine for the prevention of the disease in animals did not occur until 1920 when a vaccine specifically designed for domestic animals was developed. Vaccinating your pet with the killed form of the rabies virus still remains the only way to prevent this deadly disease. Many geographical areas have a very high incidence of rabies in wildlife, which poses a threat to our pets. A rabid bat for example often becomes paralyzed with the disease, making it accessible to either a person picking it up or a dog or cat approaching it. Bats can spread rabies if an infected bat bites a human or animal. For the first time in many years, rabid bats were found in Kananaskis, Banff, and Lake Louise this summer. The rabies vaccine is so effective at preventing disease that all dogs and outdoor cats or cats that live indoors in homes where bats are able to get inside must be vaccinated. You never know when your pet may have access to a bat.
Vaccines are designed to prevent or reduce the risk of contracting contagious diseases. Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis or more commonly known as Kennel Cough is one such virus. Many people believe only dogs that frequent a boarding facility or doggie daycare need to be vaccinated for this virus, but that is not the case. Kennel cough is highly contagious in dogs that are friendly towards one another and have nose to nose contact, such as on walks and at dog parks. Your pet can become very sick with constant coughing, fever, and lethargy. Prevention thorough vaccination will keep your dog healthy and happy.
There are many diseases that your veterinarian will discuss with you that can be prevented through vaccination. Depending on where you live or where you plan to travel to, specific vaccines may be recommended. Locally as we see an increase in the number of ticks that are able to carry Lyme disease, the vaccine for Lyme disease will become part of your pet’s annual vaccine recommendations. Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s lifestyle and any travel plans so that they can help to keep your pet safe and healthy for many years to come!