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0 PSA | Why Vaccinate Your Pet?

While the timing, type and frequency of pet vaccinations is under controversy, the fact that vaccines help prevent many illnesses in pets as well as prevent the spread of many diseases is not.

Vaccines help prepare the body's immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which look like the disease-causing organism to the immune system but don't actually cause disease. When the vaccine is introduced to the body, the immune system is mildly stimulated. If a pet is ever exposed to the real disease, his immune system is now prepared to recognize and fight it off entirely or reduce the severity of the illness.

Vaccines are very important to managing the health of your pet. That said, not every pet needs to be vaccinated against every disease. It is very important to discuss with your veterinarian a vaccination protocol that’s right for your pet. Factors that should be examined include age, medical history, environment, travel habits and lifestyle. Most vets highly recommend administering core vaccines to healthy pets.

Core vaccines are considered vital to all pets based on risk of exposure, severity of disease or transmissibility to humans.

For Dogs
Vaccines for canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk. These include vaccines against Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira bacteria.

For Cats
Vaccines for panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus type I (rhinotracheitis) and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the cat's lifestyle; these include vaccines for feline leukemia virus, Bordetella, Chlamydophila felis and feline immunodeficiency virus.

To protect your pet from contagious diseases, keep his essential vaccinations up-to-date. This is important even if your pet is kept mostly indoors. Many contagious diseases are airborne and your pet could easily be exposed through an open window. There is also always a risk that your pet could accidentally slip out the door. Boarding kennels, dog parks and grooming salons are all areas where your pet is likely to be exposed to contagious diseases so be sure to consult with your veterinarian before taking your pet to any of these places.

It is also important to keep in mind that vaccinations take a few days to a few weeks to become effective.

One of the virus’s that is affecting our community at the moment is Canine Parvovirus, which, unfortunately is one of the most frequent serious dog disease problems encountered in animal shelters This is due to the difficulty in diagnosing, isolating and treating cases. The incubation period, the time between exposure and symptoms is usually 4-6 days, but can be as long as 14 days and during that time, the dog can appear healthy in looks, appetite and energy.

Parvo is spread from dog to dog (humans are not susceptible to the disease) mainly through exposure to contaminated feces. It is also spread through objects such as hands, clothing, food, toys etc. Insects and rodents are also a means for spreading the disease and the virus can live on organic matter (grass, dirt) for more than a year. The virus can remain on a dogs coat and serve as a means of transmission long after recovery from the illness, as long as 14 days in some cases.

In order to decontaminate a in a shelter environment, quarantine for a minimum of 14 days is imperative. This is done to isolate the sick animal(s), instruct staff on sanitation and preventing cross-contamination, and the actual cleaning which requires disinfecting the entire (inside & out) shelter.

In a nutshell, please be sure that you protect the health of not only your pet, but the others that they may come in contact with in your community, by vaccinating and keeping up to date with those vaccinations.

Shared in the WWN by Deb Navin, Shelter Volunteer


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