Why We Should Vaccinate Our Pets.

With flu season at its peak I hear everyone discussing why we should or should not get vaccinated against the virus. With all this talk about vaccines I thought it would be the perfect time to discuss vaccines that will protect your pets. I want to discuss which vaccines you should or should not get your cat and dog vaccinated for.

Pumpkin Photo Credit Kimberly Mitchell-Lee

Pumpkin
Photo Credit Kimberly Mitchell-Lee

For your cat, whether they stay inside only or if they go outside, they definitely need to get their rabies vaccine. Some people argue that if their cat does not go outside they do not have any exposure for rabies, so they do not wish to vaccinate for it. The risk is low for indoor only cats, but it is not completely zero. There is no cure for rabies. This means if your cat does contract rabies, it will be fatal. You also run the risk of exposing yourself and your family to the virus. Do not put your feline friend at risk, just vaccinate them against rabies.

Another vaccine that should be given to both indoor and outdoor cats is FVRCP. This vaccine protects your cat against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia.  Feline viral rhinotracheitis is a very contagious. It is a severe upper respiratory infection. Calicivirus causes ulcers in the mouth and tongue. Again this infection is extremely contagious. Pnaleukopenia, also known as feline distemper, can be fatal even with aggressive treatment. Your cat can contract all three of these diseases without even coming into direct contact with another cat. The FVRCP vaccine is very effective and inexpensive compared to the treatment of these diseases.

The feline leukemia vaccine is only recommended for cats who go outside or board in facilities that allow the cats to congregate with each other. Feline leukemia can be transmitted by blood, saliva, urine, and feces. If your cat stays inside and does not come into contact with any other cats, they do not have to be vaccinated for feline leukemia. There is no cure for feline leukemia virus, so if there is any risk of exposure please get the vaccine. For example, if you have a cat who tries to escape every time the front door opens, it is recommend to vaccinate them anyways.

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Just like in felines, you should always vaccinate your dog against rabies. There is no cure for rabies and if your dog contracts it, they will perish. If you do not vaccinate against rabies and your dog bites someone, their life is at risk. If the person they bit wants them to be tested for rabies, your dog will have to be euthanized and their brain tissue will be examined. Do not leave your best friend unprotected. Just vaccinate them against rabies.

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Skyla during her treatment for parvo.

Another vaccine that all dogs should be vaccinated for is DA2PP. This protects your pet against distemper, adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza and parvovirus. All of these disease are extremely contagious and can be fatal even with intensive treatment. It is much easier to vaccinate your dog against these diseases instead of trying to treat them. My puppy Skyla had contracted parvovirus before I adopted her and she became sick with the virus within a week of me adopting her. I took her to the vet the first time she vomited and she was immediately hospitalized. Even with this rapid diagnosis and treatment, Skyla almost died. Please do not put your dog at risk and vaccinate them for DA2PP.

An optional vaccine for dogs is the bordetella vaccine. This vaccine protects your dog against kennel cough. It is recommended to vaccinate your dog against kennel cough if they go to the dog park regularly, go to boarding facilities regularly, or go to the groomer.

The final vaccine your dog could get is the lepto vaccine. This vaccine protects your dog against leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is a bacteria that attacks your dog’s kidneys and can cause kidney failure. Your dog is exposed to this bacteria from the urine of an infected animal. Leptospirosis is zoonotic; this means you can contract it if your pet has it. It is recommended to vaccinate your dog against lepto if they frequent area where there are a lot of wild animals or if they swim or drink out of lakes or streams.

Please do not put your pet or yourself at risk. If they are not properly vaccinated please take them to the vet and get them vaccinated. All of these diseases are completely preventable if you simply vaccinate your pet.

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