You’re probably aware that when you get a puppy or kitten, you’re going to need to visit the vet for vaccinations, flea and tick prevention and other treatments. However, to maintain your pet’s health and wellbeing, regular trips to the vets are recommended. Annual vaccinations or boosters are important to protect your pet against preventable diseases and discomfort. Here we explore some of the common questions, and myths, around the annual visit for vaccination…
My pet only had its primary vaccines, is that okay?
It is a misunderstanding amongst some pet owners, that following the vaccination, pets are protected against diseases for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case and can cause the expense of their puppy or kitten’s health and, in extreme cases, the loss of a pet.
Some clients may have the misconception that an annual vaccination is just for the commercial benefit of the pharmaceutical company or vet – again, this isn’t true.Your pet should be vaccinated as a puppy and then get regular boosters throughout their life.
How do vaccines work?
Did you know, vaccines don’t actually fight diseases themselves?
Vaccines stimulate the immune system of pets to produce antibodies. Then, if your pet comes into contact with a virus or disease, it will be recognised by its immune system and protected against infection by the antibodies the vaccine produced.
The body will produce different levels of protection for varying lengths of time, and therefore the response to individual vaccines will vary hugely. As an example, the Leptospirosis vaccination provides one year of immunity, which is much shorter than the Distemper vaccination that delivers three years of immunity.
Due to varying immunity periods, not all aspects of the core vaccines are included each year. Some parts are included annually, every three years or even every five years, which is why the annual vaccination is recommended.Pet owners must not worry about ‘over-vaccinating’ an animal – vets vaccinate according to the treatment they had the previous year.
What do vaccinations protect my pet from?
There are four main diseases that pets are vaccinated against. These are:
- Canine distemper
- Infectious canine hepatitis
Vaccines can take effect within a few hours of the treatment. At this point, the earliest phase of the immune response is being stimulated, it can then take up to fourteen days before a reasonable level of protection is established.
Is my pet protected for life?
It’s a popular opinion that after a pet has had its vaccinations for a couple of years, the animal will have built up enough protection to no longer need its boosters.
Just like humans, the young and the elderly are usually more vulnerable to disease and illness. As your pet gets older, the immune system is likely to become weaker, and so, regular boosters are essential.
Always remember that a booster could stop your pet from catching a disease in its later life when its immune system is much weaker and less likely to fight it.
Helping the wider pet community
Although shielding your pet against preventable diseases is plenty to persuade any loving pet owner to vaccine their pet, another reason to do so is to protect the entire pet population. Many dog walkers, boarding kennels, or day-care facilities will require you to have your pet fully vaccinated.
Many of the core diseases in the UK are now extremely low risk, this is due to years of vaccination compliance and positive action from pet owners. However, if we were to stop vaccinating pets, and the prevalence of infections increased, animals would be at a much higher risk of contracting deadly diseases.