Vaccines - Benefits vs Risks

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Vaccines - Benefits vs Risks

Your veterinarian is always talking about the importance of vaccinating your pet. But what exactly are vaccines and what are the associated benefits and risks? 

What Are The Benefits of Pet Vaccination?

Vaccines are created to stimulate protective immune responses in pets against particular diseases and disease-causing agents. Once the immune system has been stimulated to create antibodies against the disease, should a pet become exposed to that disease, that pet would be expected to develop little to no infection because the immune system was already "prepped for the fight”. 

The core set of vaccinations that veterinarians recommend protects pets from many highly contagious and deadly diseases. Without vaccination, treatment can be very expensive and painful for the pet. The results can even be fatal in some cases. Vaccinating your pet can also protect you and your family from disease; rabies, for example, can be passed from pets to people. 

Rabies vaccination is required by law in many states and counties. In California, all dogs over four months old are required by law to be licensed and vaccinated against rabies. 

What Are The Core Vaccination Recommendations?

For dogs: DHPP, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, and Rabies

For cats: FVRCP, FELV, and Rabies

Though these are the core recommendations, it is important to talk with your veterinarian about your pet's living environment; habits; contact with wildlife; contact with other pets at kennels, obedience classes, or dog parks; as well as potential travel. These factors could make a difference in what vaccines they recommend.

What Are The Risks of Pet Vaccination?

Similar to people, it is typical to see immunoresponse reactions just after vaccination. The most common responses are mild and short-term: fever, sluggishness, reduced appetite, and temporary pain or subtle swelling at the vaccination site. Most pets have little to no reaction at all.  

Allergic reactions to vaccines occur quickly, symptoms appear within minutes or hours, and are more severe in nature. Symptoms may include repeated vomiting or diarrhea, whole body itching, swelling of the face or legs, difficulty breathing or collapse. Contact your veterinarian immediately if any of these symptoms are seen.  

Only 13 out of every 10,000 vaccinations reports producing a more severe allergic reaction. Though, there are risks associated with vaccination, but they are usually outweighed by the benefits. Always talk to your veterinarian first if you have concerns about vaccinating your pet. 
Posted Wednesday, July 22, 2015