Dog and Cat Vaccinations
Keep Your Pet Disease-Free With Regular Vaccinations
Adhering to a regular vaccination schedule is a good way to protect your pet from certain diseases. We provide basic information on vaccinations here, but it’s best to get advice from one of the vets in our Santa Cruz veterinary clinic as each pet is unique and requires a unique vaccination plan.
What Are Vaccines?
Vaccines are designed to trigger immune responses in pets and build up their immunity system against future attacks by infections and disease-causing agents. Vaccines can either lesson the severity of the disease or prevent it entirely.
The answer is simple. Experts agree that vaccinations can save your pet’s life, and statistics prove that to be true. In the last few years alone, millions of pets have been saved through the regular use of vaccinations. Through the use of vaccinations, some formerly common diseases, such as distemper and even parvovirus, are now less common, but vaccinations for these are still recommended to prevent their resurgence.
Do Vaccinations Always Work?
For most pets, vaccinations are effective and do prevent future disease. Occasionally, however, a vaccinated pet may not develop adequate immunity and might become ill. This is rare, however, and it’s much better to remember that the success rate is very high and saves millions of lives. Your pet is better off with vaccinations in his preventive health care program.
Are There Risks?
Most pets respond well to vaccinations without any adverse side effects, but occasionally there may be a reaction. This is a very important reason why your pet’s vaccination program should be administered by the vet who maintains a history with your pet. The most common reactions when they do occur are:
- Reduced appetite
- Temporary pain
- Subtle swelling at the site of vaccination
Although most adverse responses will resolve within a day or two, excessive pain, swelling, or listlessness should be discussed with your veterinarian.
Rarely, Serious Adverse Responses Occur
Contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet has any of the following:
- Repeated vomiting or diarrhea
- Whole body itching
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the face or legs
These signs may indicate an allergic reaction and could lead to death. While this may be frightening to you, keep in mind that serious allergic reactions to vaccinations are rare, and don’t lose sight of the fact that death can also occur by failing to vaccinate your pet against preventable diseases.
Why Do Puppies and Kittens Require a Series of Vaccinations?
Very young puppies and kittens are highly susceptible to infectious diseases. This is especially true as the natural immunity provided in their mothers’ milk gradually wears off. To keep gaps in protection as narrow as possible and to provide optimal protection against disease for the first few months of life, a series of vaccinations are scheduled, usually three to four weeks apart. For most puppies and kittens, the final vaccination in the series is administered when they are 12 to 16 weeks old.
Where Should You Go to Get Vaccinations?
Home vaccinations and drop-in vaccination clinics are popular these days, but we feel that it’s best to have your pets vaccinated by the veterinarian who will oversee the health of your pet for the long-term. Not all pets are the same, and each one requires a unique program. See subtopic below.
Which Vaccinations Should My Pet Get?
This is a question to ask your vet. Not all pets should be vaccinated with all vaccines just because these vaccines are available. Your pet’s age, health, lifestyle, access to other animals and travel plans are factors that affect your pet’s risk of exposure to disease as well as risk of reaction, and your personal vet will prescribe vaccinations accordingly.
How Often Should My Pet Be Vaccinated?
Each pet and each of their lifestyles are different, so we can’t say for certain which vaccines your pet needs, nor how often. Please call our Santa Cruz veterinary clinic and set up an appointment to see one of our vets here. At that time, we will create a vaccination schedule for you. Since puppies and kittens immune systems are still undeveloped, we recommend that you schedule your first appointment as soon as you bring your pet home.
Most Important Takeaway
Your veterinarian will take into consideration your pet’s lifestyle and level of exposure to contagious diseases to create a custom vaccination schedule for you.