For those who may have been unaware, August is known as National Immunization Awareness Month for pets. Now, the question of whether to vaccinate pets or not and how often is one of the most debtated questions in veterinary medicine. Previously, it was much simpler as you would take your dog or cat to the vet at least once a year, and they would receive the recommended vaccinations and anything else they may need, and then you were on your way. However, now that the standard of care has changed, it is no longer as simple as just vaccinating every animal every year with every vaccine available.
Nowadays, vaccines have been divided into two categories: “core” and “non-core” vaccinations. Core vaccines are the ones that every animal should get at some point during their lifetime like rabies, distemper, and parvovirus. Non-core vaccines refer to the ones that should be administered based on certain risk factors of a particular animal. For example, the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) vaccine is for cats who are allowed outside and the bordetella vaccine is for dogs who are regularly boarded in a kennel.
One of the most straightforward reasons to vaccinate your pets is to comply with the local law. For example, it is typical for every community to require dogs and cats in some communities, to be vaccinated for rabies. The reason being that it is a public health issues considering rabies is zoonotic, meaning it can spread from animals to people and it is not a curable disease. In fact, the only time it is acceptable to not vaccinate for rabies is if your pet has a disease that could be worsened by the vaccine. Another thing to consider is whether your pet goes to a day care, or a dog park or kennel. If they do, then they are likely to be exposed to more diseases so they should be on a regular vaccination schedule. Finally, you will want to consider your pets’ lifestyle. For example, does your dog encounter wildlife or play in areas where you may frequently spot wildlife? If so, then you may want to vaccinate for leptospirosis.
So, how often should your pets be vaccinated? Some recommendations include doing the puppy and kitten series, and then a booster vaccine in one year, and then every year thereafter.
Keep in mind that vaccines are important for your pet’s general health care and a cornerstone of proper wellness care for your animals. So, if you are looking to get your pet vaccinated or have further questions about pet vaccinations, please feel free to contact Cherrelyn Animal Hospital at (303) 532-1258!