Vaccinating your pet is an easy way to protect them from many life-threatening diseases. While no vaccine is 100% effective, and a small number of pets react to vaccinations, the benefits of vaccinating your pet far outweigh the risks. Our team at Columbia Pike Animal Hospital wants to explain reasons why your pet should be vaccinated.

#1: Vaccines protect your pet from many diseases

Vaccinating your pet helps prepare their immune system to fight many different diseases. Numerous vaccines are available, but not every pet needs every vaccine, and the specific vaccines your pet requires will be determined by their lifestyle. However, all pets need the core vaccines.

  • Core vaccines for dogs — A core vaccine is one that is considered necessary for all pets based on their exposure risk, disease severity, or potential transmissibility to humans. For dogs, these include:
    • Parvovirus — This highly contagious viral infection is most common in puppies and unvaccinated dogs. Transmission occurs when your dog contacts an infected dog, or objects contaminated with their feces. The virus attacks the gastrointestinal tract, causing signs including lethargy, fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, and severe, bloody diarrhea. 
    • Distemper — Canine distemper is a contagious viral infection that most commonly affects puppies and unvaccinated dogs. Foxes, wolves, coyotes, skunks, and raccoons can also be affected. The virus is transmitted through aerosolized droplets from an infected animal, or from objects contaminated with these droplets. Distemper attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems, causing signs that include ocular discharge, fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, and vomiting. If the virus attacks the nervous system, signs include head tilt, muscle twitches, and seizures.
    • Canine hepatitis — Infectious canine hepatitis is caused by an adenovirus, and is transmitted through an infected dog’s urine, nasal discharge, and ocular discharge. Signs include lethargy, mild fever, nasal and ocular discharge, cough, and cloudy corneas. 
    • Rabies — This deadly viral disease is transmitted through an infected animal’s bite. Wildlife, such as bats, skunks, racoons, and foxes, also carry the disease. The virus attacks the brain and spinal cord, causing signs including restlessness, aggression, fever, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering, and seizures. No treatment is available for rabies, and once signs appear, the disease is almost always fatal.
  • Core vaccines for cats — The necessary vaccines for all cats include:
    • Rabies — This viral infection affects cats similarly to dogs.
    • Panleukopenia — Also known as feline distemper, panleukopenia is caused by the feline parvovirus. Kittens are the most severely affected. Transmission occurs through contact with an infected cat’s urine, feces, or nasal secretions. The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells in the bone marrow, intestines, and a developing fetus. Signs include lethargy, fever, vomiting, severe diarrhea, and nasal discharge, and pregnant female cats may abort their kittens.
    • Feline calicivirus — Feline calicivirus is a highly contagious viral infection that causes respiratory disease and oral lesions in cats. Transmission occurs through contact with an infected cat’s saliva, nasal discharge, or ocular secretions. The virus preferentially infects the lung tissue and the mouth lining. Signs include sneezing, nasal congestion, fever, drooling, and crusting sores on the nose and mouth.
    • Feline herpesvirus type I — Also known as feline viral rhinotracheitis, this viral infection is transmitted through contact with an infected cat’s saliva, nasal discharge, and ocular secretions. Signs include sneezing, conjunctivitis, and nasal and ocular discharge. 

#2: Vaccinating your pet will avoid expensive treatment for preventable diseases

If your pet is affected by one of these diseases, life-saving treatment can be costly. For many of these infections, no specific drug is available to combat the virus, and treatment involves supportive therapy to correct dehydration and protein losses. These treatments can be prolonged, since no cure exists, and the costs of ongoing care can add up quickly. In addition, feline herpesvirus can reappear anytime your cat is stressed, possibly requiring lifelong treatment. By vaccinating your pet, you can avoid expensive medications and supportive therapy.

#3: Vaccinating your pet protects you and your family

Your infected pet can transmit rabies to you. This dangerous disease has no cure, and anyone who is exposed can face life-threatening consequences. Transmission can occur if your pet bites you, or their saliva enters an open wound. Signs in humans include headache, fever, mental confusion, and difficulty swallowing. Once signs manifest, the infection is typically fatal. Vaccinating your pet ensures they can’t spread this deadly disease to you and your family.

#4: Vaccinating your pet protects them from wildlife

Wildlife, such as bats, racoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes, can spread rabies and distemper. Wildlife can enter your yard, contact your pet, and potentially transmit dangerous diseases. Vaccinating your pet protects them from any infections these animals may transmit to your pet.

#5: Vaccinating your pet is required by law

The code of Virginia requires that all dogs and cats be vaccinated against rabies before 4 months of age. This law was instituted because preventing the disease in pets is the best means for protecting humans. Vaccinating your pet ensures you don’t break the law. 

Vaccinating your pet is an easy and inexpensive way to protect them from many preventable diseases. You will also be a law abiding citizen! If your pet is due for their vaccinations, contact our team at Columbia Pike Animal Hospital, so we can ensure they are protected.