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Pet Vaccinations FAQs
Have you ever wondered if your indoor pet really needs those vaccine boosters or how vaccinations even work? If so, you’re not alone. Our veterinary team gets asked these questions all the time! That’s why we’ve put together this “cheat sheet” with answers to five of the most frequently asked questions about pet vaccinations.
#1: How do pet vaccinations work?
A vaccination contains a non-harmful version of an otherwise dangerous virus that could cause illness in your pet. For example, in the DHPP vaccine, the virus that causes parvovirus in dogs is altered slightly so it cannot make your pet sick, but will still cause your pet’s immune system to mount a response. Vaccines cause the immune system to recognize the virus as a foreign invader, creating what scientists call “immunological memory”. Consequently, should your pet be exposed to an active strain of the virus in real life, your pet’s body will automatically react and fight off the virus.
#2: What vaccines does my pet need?
Our veterinary hospital follows the guidelines set forth by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) for pet vaccinations. For dogs, these vaccines are typically administered in a combined vaccine that protects against distemper, canine hepatitis, and parvovirus, and an additional vaccination against rabies. For cats, the core vaccines include feline herpesvirus 1 (FHV1), feline calicivirus (FCV), feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) and rabies.
#3: Will my pet need “non-core” vaccines?
Depending on your pet’s lifestyle and health needs, your pet may benefit from additional non-core vaccinations. For example, dogs that are frequently in boarding or doggy daycare should be vaccinated against bordatella, which causes kennel cough. Cats may need a vaccination against feline leukemia (FeLV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), depending on the health of other felines in your household and your cat’s lifestyle. Our veterinarian will work with you to determine the most appropriate vaccination schedule for your pet’s needs and whether any non-core vaccinations are necessary.
#4: My pet spends most of his time indoors; are vaccinations still necessary?
Core vaccinations are necessary for every pet, regardless of whether they are free to wander outside all day long or spend the majority of their day happily napping on the sofa. Core vaccines protect against highly contagious and deadly viruses that can be difficult and expensive to treat. Additionally, in the case of rabies, this deadly disease can easily spread from your pet to another human, including young children in your household. Consequently, keeping your pet up to date on all core vaccinations is essential regardless of his or her lifestyle.
#5: Are vaccinations safe?
In general, pet vaccinations are safe and effective, especially core vaccinations. While any medication or vaccination carries some small risks, the risks of not vaccinating your pet are far greater. Should your pet become ill, treatment can be very expensive. Even with modern veterinary advancements, treatment is not always successful. Our veterinary hospital strongly believes that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!