The reality is, a good deal of pets never know they were vaccinated. They were busy hearing, “Good boy!,” and being plied with treats. Yes, the kind of treats we tell you not to give at home because they are too fattening on a regular basis. We’re hypocrites, we know, but we want you’re dog or cat to forget any anxiety at the vet and remember only the tasty bits!

Vaccines are an important part of your pet’s overall healthcare protection. Vaccines protect your pet and the pet population on the whole from a host of communicable diseases.

“But my cat never goes outside.” I carry my dog everywhere,” “My dog/cat never leaves my yard.” Veterinarians commonly hear these explanations for why an owner doesn’t want vaccines given. The truth is there are viruses your cat can be exposed to through a screen door. You may rescue a stray at some point. Cats are stealthy and can travel miles in a days time on their regular route. Dogs are communal, they will find each other, talk through the fence, poo in each other’s yards, the usual. Some of these viruses can live in the environment for extremely long periods of time. All these things present risk to your pets during their daily lives. Risks that can be mitigated by following your veterinarians advice about the vaccine protocol that’s right for your pet’s lifestyle.
“My pet’s lifestyle!?” Yep! Lifestyle. Do you sometimes leave Fido at the kennel? Is the cat exposed to the outdoors or other cats that are? Does the dog rip through the creek and swim in the pond or go on those family camping trips? Headed to the local dog park later? These are factors in the type of vaccines your veterinarian will recommend along with core vaccines, to protect your four-legged family members. Lifestyle vaccines include Bordetella (for boarding, grooming, group dog activities), Lepto (for dogs that have access to ponds, lakes, camping, etc.) and FELV (for cats with outdoor exposure).

It is extremely important that puppies and kittens are vaccinated appropriately. Don’t miss those booster appointments. Puppies and kittens are extra vulnerable to viruses. Puppies should be given a DA2PP (distemper, adenovirus, parvo, parainfluenza) every 3 weeks between the ages of 6 weeks and 16 weeks. Kittens should recieve the FVRCP (Feline rhinotracheitis, calici, panleukopenia) every 4 weeks from 8 weeks of age until 16 weeks of age. The rabies vaccine and any lifestyle vaccines will be integrated into that schedule as necessary by your vet.

For most adult, healthy pets, a yearly vaccination schedule is recommended, with the rabies vaccine being at a 1 or 3 year interval. Along with yearly vaccines, an annual heartworm test, intestinal parasite check and sometimes annual bloodwork are advised. A wellness exam every 6 months is the preferred guideline, particularly for older pets. If over-vaccination is a concern for you, there is always the option of running bloodwork to check titers which determine protection level. Although this can be cost prohibitive. Discuss any vaccination concerns with your veterinarian.

Get the most out of your vet visit. Advise the vet of your pet’s lifestyle and any history of vaccine reactions. Have a list of medications your pet takes including milligrams & dosing. Be ready to tell the vet the brand of food you feed, how much and how often. Make notes leading up to your appointment so that in the fray you don’t forget the thing you meant to ask. Be a partner with the vet in ensuring your pet a long healthy and happy life.