Originally Published: August 23, 2016 6 a.m.
We can’t let August wrap up without first recognizing it is National Immunization Awareness month. Vaccines allow us to protect our beloved pets from the microscopic dangers of the world. They are a critical health measure we practice at the animal shelter, and one that is important for your own pet as well.
What is a key line of defense in helping your pets live a long and healthy life with you? Vaccinations. They may seem scary—after all, no one likes to be stuck by a needle. Rest assured, however, that the small prick Fido or Fluffy will feel can offer them years of health and protection from some of nature’s dangers.
What exactly are vaccines and how do they work? Animal vaccines are much like vaccinations for your child. They introduce weakened or killed forms of a disease to the body to stimulate an immune response. This way, if the body is ever exposed to the real illness, it is better prepared to fight off the illness completely or reduce its severity.
You may be wondering which vaccinations your pets should have. There is a long answer and a short one. The short answer is for your pets to be immunized with what veterinarians have agreed can be labeled “core vaccinations.”
The long answer is that every animal is different, so it is important to talk to your veterinarian about which vaccinations they recommend for your particular situation. Regardless, veterinarians recommend core vaccinations and may recommend others depending on what kind of activities you like to do, where you live etc. Veterinarians will also make recommendations depending on your pet’s age, medical history, environment, lifestyle, and vaccination history.
The vaccination that is required by law is the Rabies vaccination for dogs. While not required by law, having your cat vaccinated for Rabies is a wise thing to do. The CDC reported in 2013 that domestic animals account for 8 percent of rabid animals, and of those animals, cats have remained the most frequently reported rabid domestic animal at 53 percent, followed by dogs at 19 percent. In the Prescott area you are required to Rabies license your dog every year, but depending on the vaccination and your pet’s vaccination history you may not need the shot until every third year.
Core vaccinations are defined differently for both dogs and cats. For dogs, veterinarians recommend a combo vaccine to protect them from Canine parvovirus, distemper, and canine hepatitis. For cats, veterinarians recommend two vaccinations that make up “core vaccines.” These are the rabies vaccination (not required by law for cats) and the FVRCP vaccine.
Keep in mind that there are many other vaccinations available that are defined as “non-core vaccinations” for both dogs and cats. Things like bordatella (kennel cough), leptospirosis, rattlesnake vaccinations or feline leukemia vaccines may be recommended by your veterinarian depending upon your pet’s needs.
Overall, vaccinations allow us to help protect our pets from dangerous and costly illnesses. By protecting them now, you are potentially saving their lives and your wallet from future hardship.
Prevention is better than the need to cure. Speak with your veterinarian about your pet’s vaccinations, or visit Yavapai Humane Society’s Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic any Friday from 8 to 11:30 a.m. or 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. (2989 Centerpointe East, Prescott) for its walk-in, low-cost pet vaccinations.
Elisabeth Haugan is the marketing and development director for Yavapai Humane Society. Contact YHS at 928-445-2666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.