Most people are aware that veterinarians recommend vaccinations for their pets. Given the debate surrounding human vaccines, some pet owners may be asking: why vaccinate? Here are five reasons that vaccines are important for your furry companion.
1. Disease prevention – Vaccines are proven to reduce the rate of infection and severity of illness for common diseases. They are an essential part of keeping your pet healthy.
Some vaccines, called core vaccines, are recommended for all dogs, cats and ferrets. Additional, non-core vaccines are recommended on an individual basis depending on the pet’s lifestyle and risk of exposure to particular diseases.
It is recommended that pets begin vaccines at 6-8 weeks old. Young animals require vaccine boosters every 2-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old. The vaccine series is necessary to ensure the immune system is given sufficient stimulation to provide protection if exposed to the disease. After the initial series of vaccines, boosters are recommended every 1-3 years depending on the disease and type of vaccine being administered. Your veterinarian will often send reminders to help keep your pet on track.
2. Minimize disease transmission – The diseases we vaccinate for are highly contagious between cats, dogs and sometimes even wildlife. By vaccinating more animals, there is less disease in the environment to spread to healthy animals.
3. Cost – It is much less expensive to vaccinate your pet than it is to treat them if they become sick. For example, a puppy that becomes sick from parvo virus often requires 3-4 days of intensive care and may even die. This disease is easily prevented by vaccination.
4. Socializing your pet – Boarding facilities, training facilities and airlines all require proof of vaccination before accepting your pet. If you plan on getting your pet out to enjoy the world, you will need to vaccinate them.
5. Laws – Some vaccines, such as rabies, are required by law. This is because the virus can be transmitted to humans and result in a deadly infection. There are also serious consequences if your pet bites another animal or person and is not vaccinated for rabies.
As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to keep your pet healthy. As a veterinary professional, it is heart-breaking to watch an animal struggle with, or succumb to, a preventable disease. When administered correctly, vaccines are highly effective, and it is rare for vaccinated pets to develop or transmit infectious diseases. Please work with your family veterinarian to vaccinate and protect your pet!