Cat Clinic of Cary Blog
The Importance of Pet Vaccines
Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably caught wind of some of the controversy surrounding vaccines and the recent measles and mumps outbreaks in the United States. The controversy is both multifaceted and complicated.
There is also some debate in the veterinary community regarding vaccines for pets. There are several reasons, however, that most veterinarians strongly urge pet owners to vaccinate their pets, including Cat Clinic of Cary’s Dr. Jenn Eachus.
What Is a Vaccine?
Vaccines are a way to help the body’s immune system be prepared to fight off certain disease-causing organisms. When a vaccination is administered, it stimulates the immune system in such a way as to allow it to see its enemy and be better prepared to fight off that organism should it ever be exposed again.
Some vaccinations elicit a strong immune response, which can last a long time, whereas others need to be repeated, or boosted, at given intervals. Which vaccines are recommended for an individual pet depends on the pet’s exposure risk and lifestyle.
How Vaccines Protect Pets
Many of the diseases we vaccinate pets for are quite serious, with some being deadly. Keeping a pet current on recommended vaccinations protects him or her from these diseases. Vaccines also help to prevent the disease from spreading within the pet population (or to humans, in the case of zoonotic diseases), and allows mother dogs and cats to pass on some immunity to their unprotected offspring.
Some of the more serious pet diseases we vaccinate for include:
- Feline distemper – This cat vaccine provides protection against feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia (distemper). Rhinotracheitis and calicivirus cause mild to serious respiratory infections. Panleukopenia is an often disease that can cause severe diarrhea and immune problems.
- Feline leukemia – Feline leukemia is a contagious cat disease that suppresses the immune system as well as causing other complications. It is spread through the exposure of an infected cat to an unvaccinated cat; and is commonly found among outdoor cats and the stray population.
Thanks to modern vaccination technology, many pets never have to experience these devastating diseases.
How Pet Vaccines Protect People
While we often think of pet vaccines as a way to protect our pets; the truth is, many pet vaccinations protect people as well. Diseases that are able to be transmitted between animals and people are referred to as zoonotic. The most common zoonotic disease is rabies.
North Carolina state law requires the rabies vaccination for all dogs, cats, and ferrets over four months of age. This requirement is for good reason, as rabies is a serious and always deadly disease that people can contract from infected pets.
No one wants their pet to be sick, but it is even worse to have a family member or friend be infected by a totally preventable disease.
Vaccination is an important part of proper pet wellness care and responsibility to the community. When it comes time to vaccinate your pet, we will discuss your pet’s risk factors and determine which vaccinations are most appropriate for the situation. It is our goal to protect all of our pet patients and their families as much as possible from preventable disease.