The Value of Vaccinations
The Value of Vaccinations
We love our pets for so many reasons. They provide unconditional love, companionship, and stress release. They entertain us, cheer us up, and can be the perfect exercise pals. All these and more are reasons to vaccinate your furry friends. Vaccinations improve your pet’s overall quality of life and protect them from contagious and deadly diseases.
What are Vaccines?
Vaccines promote protective immune responses in pets. They have two major benefits:
- Vaccinations are life-saving products (usually injections) that help prepare dogs, cats, and others to fight viruses and infections
- Vaccines can lessen the severity of future diseases and certain vaccines can prevent infection altogether
When They Are Young
Puppies, kittens and very young animals are highly susceptible to sickness. When they are babies, their immune system is not yet fully mature.
To provide optimal protection, a series of vaccinations should be scheduled beginning at six to eight weeks of age. Traditionally, vaccinations are repeated at three to four-week intervals until the pet is16 weeks old. A veterinarian will help guide you through the proper timing.
Frequent visits to the vet over several months for vaccinations, and then for boosters throughout your dog or cat’s life may seem like an inconvenience. But remember, this preventative step will shield your four-legged family member from dangerous, and potentially deadly diseases, so it is absolutely worth the time and effort. Every veterinarian will tell you that pets should be vaccinated.
Which Vaccines are Necessary?
“Core vaccines” are the ones that are needed for every pet and many are required by law.<1> They include a variety of shots, with the most important being rabies vaccination.
The initial rabies vaccination is typically given between three to five months and is valid for one-year. All subsequent and booster rabies vaccinations are valid for two to three years.
Rabies can be fatal for both pets and people and the vaccination for dogs and cats are required under most state laws.
We read about so many different vaccinations, for so many different illnesses, that it can sometimes be confusing to know which vaccinations are needed and which ones are important, but optional.
For Canine Companions
Some vaccinations are foundational to your dog's good health. Without proper vaccination, your dog may suffer long-term effects of a disease. For example, if your canine friend does not receive the distemper vaccination, they may suffer seizures, twitching, and even paralysis throughout their life.
This is a basic summary for optimizing your dog's vaccinations:
|Dog's Age||Vaccination Schedule|
|6 - 8 weeks||Adenovirus, Bordetella, Distemper, Measles, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus|
|10 - 12 Weeks||Coronavirus, Leptospirosis|
|12 – 24 Weeks||Rabies|
|14 – 16 Weeks||Adenovirus, Distemper, Parainfluenza, Para Virus|
|12 – 16 Months||Rabies|
|Every 2 Years||Adenovirus, Distemper, Parainfluenza, Para Virus|
For Feline Friends
There are some vaccines that all cats need to protect them from illness. There are also “non-core” vaccines that are necessary for outdoor cats to protect against health risks commonly found in the outside environment. Your veterinarian can provide guidance on specific vaccines for your area.
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), the average cat vaccination schedule includes the following:<2>
|6 - 8 weeks||Calicivirus, Distemper, Herpes Virus Type 1|
|12 weeks or older||Rabies, Feline Leukemia|
|Adult (Every 1 - 2 years)||Calicivirus, Distemper, Herpes Virus Type 1, Feline Leukemia, Rabies|
Potential Side Effects
It is entirely normal for pets to experience some or all of the following mild side effects 24 to 48 hours after receiving a vaccine:<3>
- a low-grade fever
- muscle aches
- decreased appetite
- increased sleepiness
Rarely these severe reactions will occur. But if the following side effects appear or cause your pet significant discomfort, it is important for you to contact your veterinarian.
- Sneezing, mild coughing, or other respiratory signs
- Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
- Itchy skin that may seem bumpy
- Swelling of the muzzle and around the face, neck, or eyes
If you are worried about how your pet will react to being vaccinated, consider waiting 30-60 minutes in the waiting room following vaccination before taking your pet home.
How You Can Help Others
Although vaccines help prevent diseases, no vaccination can give life-long protection. There is no substitution for regular veterinary care.
The medical care of a pet is not free, regardless if they live with you or are waiting for their forever home in a shelter. And shelter pets are often the most vulnerable.
Animals entering shelters:
- Have a high likelihood of exposure to infectious disease
- Are often housed in high-density environments with new animals arriving daily
- Often have had little or no preventive care prior to admission
- Are at tremendous risk for infection
Sparky Steps is committed to supporting the growing pet population nationwide. Shelters all around the country are overcrowded, underfunded and overburdened.
We encourage you to volunteer at your local animal shelter. You’ll be surprised at how much satisfaction and joy you experience when you walk a few shelter dogs, care for a few cats, or just hang out with the animals.
But there are other ways to help these precious animals while they wait for their forever home. Shelter pets require vaccinations and are much more adoptable when they have received their vaccines.
Support Your Shelter
We encourage you that if you have the resources, that you donate funds to your local animal care shelter so that these animals waiting for permanent homes can receive proper vaccines. There is no doubt that timely administration of vaccinations is a powerful lifesaving tool.
Giving your furry friends proper vaccinations can improve and extend your time together. At Sparky Steps, our philosophy is to always put the animal’s needs first.
Written by Audrey Beim