Your pet’s immune system protects it from disease and infection. Vaccines can aid in preparing the body against the invasion of specific organisms that cause disease.
If you’re reading this, you are most likely a pet caretaker and familiar with the idea that vaccines are a necessary part of human and animal life. As with any medical procedure, there is always the risk of side effects or reactions.
Vaccine Types and Scheduling
Most vaccinations are determined by your pet’s risk of coming in contact with a certain disease. This can depend on many factors, such as being an outside pet, having a multi-pet household or traveling to other countries on a frequent basis.
Which vaccinations you need and when you should get them can be determined during a consultation with your vet. By informing the vet of your pet’s exposure, you can assist in creating a vaccination schedule that works for your pet’s specific circumstances. No one schedule is perfect for every pet, and checking with your vet with ensure you design a plan effective and customized to your animal.
Are Vaccines Safe?
Every animal is different and can react in different ways to the same vaccine. The risks associated with the vaccine are far less than the risk of the disease itself. Vaccinations have saved a countless number of pets and humans from disease than they have harmed. Reactions are possible but remain uncommon.
How Many Trips to the Vet Do I Have to Make?
Some vaccinations occur frequently during the first year of your pet’s life.
Follow-up vaccinations are most commonly performed in 1- to 3-year increments. This also depends on the animal and the vaccine. As Dr. Deb recently pointed out, a new vaccine with less chance of causing a tumor was found than an existing vaccine, but it was required as an annual booster instead of one performed every 3 years.
If the frequency of vet visits or cost is a factor, talk to your vet and let them know what your concerns are right away. Most veterinarians are concerned about the cost passed on to pet families and try to suggest those vaccinations that they feel are necessary.
Vaccination reactions can range from mild to severe. There is no way to predict in advance how your pet will react to a particular vaccination, but there are symptoms you can look for to know when you should consult your vet or head in to the nearest animal hospital.
Mild reactions should appear within a few hours or days from the time of vaccination and disappear within a few days at most.
Mild reactions might include:
- Discomfort at the injection site
- Minimal fever
- Less desire to eat or play
- Swelling or firmness at the injection site or in the facial area (if this persists, you should see your vet)
Serious reactions to vaccinations are rare. They may include:
- A severe change in behavior or actions within hours of the vaccination
- A tumor might develop at the injection site within weeks or months after the vaccination.
What Should I Do?
If you notice your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms or is acting abnormally, you should contact your veterinarian. If your pet is reacting in a way that is very different or extreme in your opinion, visit the nearest animal hospital for immediate assessment.
Do I Really Need to Go Through This?
Unfortunately diseases are possible and if your pet is at risk, it is always best to vaccinate instead of hoping your pet will not be affected. Pets affected by disease may require expensive, long-term care or euthanization. Certain diseases can also pose a risk to humans and certain laws require administration of vaccinations (such as rabies in certain areas of the United States).
Vaccinations are being improved and changed constantly, and Dr. Deb explains more about this topic and the importance of a pet wellness plan. If your pet is allowed outside, they face catching a disease from other animals or spreading a disease. Vaccinations will help reduce the frequency of diseases for pets and humans, and veterinarians try to vaccinate only those that are beneficial to your pet.
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