The importance of vaccinating our pets
One cannot stress enough the importance of vaccinating our pets. It is the only way to prevent our pets from contracting many serious diseases. By vaccinating from around 6 weeks of age, young animals build an immunity to contagious diseases such as parvovirus (dogs) and feline panleukopenia (cats). This immunity insures that not only are they protected from potentially fatal diseases but they also curb the spread of these diseases to other animals & in the case of rabies, to humans too.
How vaccinations work?
A vaccination is a pharmaceutical product made of antigenic material which stimulates the body’s immune system to develop protection against a pathogen (disease). A vaccination is not able to cause the disease itself as it has been modified, but they stimulate the body to produce antibodies (soldiers) against the pathogen causing disease. This prepares the body to fight the disease before it has ever been exposed to it and thus the body is able to fight much more effectively if and when it gets exposed.
Why should I vaccinate my pet?
The cost of vaccinating your animal is by far cheaper than the cost of treating one of these diseases, some of which are incurable. Even in today’s age of accessible information & modern veterinary medicine, veterinarians still see animals that are sick as a result of contagious diseases that could have been prevented if they had been vaccinated. Tragically these animals often fall victim to the disease or have to be euthanized as a result of the high costs involved in treating the disease and nursing them back to health.
When should I vaccinate my pet?
As a general rule, puppies and kittens are protected by their maternal immunity until about 6 & 8 weeks of age respectively. Animals that have not ingested colostrum or are older than this are not protected by maternal antibodies and thus are susceptible to catching many contagious diseases.
From 6 to 8 weeks old, puppies and kittens are vaccinated with the ‘core’ vaccines, to mount immunity against the most common and/or dangerous diseases. These include: for dogs – distemper, parvovirus, parainfluenza, adenovirus, infectious hepatitis and for cats – feline herpes, calicivirus, panleukopenia and chlamydophila.
From 3 months of age, animals are also vaccinated against rabies. Rabies is a country controlled, highly contagious and fatal disease. Additionally a more worrying fact is that rabies can be transmitted from animals to humans.
After the initial booster series of vaccinations, it is highly recommended to vaccinate your pets annually in order to ensure maintenance of their immunity.
Dr Lara Frampton