There is a lot of chatter in the media at the moment about the pros and cons of vaccinating children. It’s one of those contentious issues which polarises parents and raises emotions. Mercifully, I’m not going to preach to you on this topic!!
We’re all about pets, so of course I’m going to have a short chat about vaccination in pets. It seems to be a reasonably accepted notion that pets (dogs and cats) should be vaccinated against various diseases : for cats the main ones are Feline Herpes Virus Type 1 (FHV-1; feline rhinotracheitis virus), Feline Calicivirus ( FCV), Feline Panleukopenia (feline infectious enteritis; feline parvovirus), Feline Chlamydial Infection Feline Leukaemia Virus ( FeLV), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Dogs should be vaccinated against Parvovirus (a highly contagious viral gastroenteritis), Distemper, Hepatitis, Canine Cough.
Vaccines work by exposing the body’s immune system to a particular modified infectious agent. This causes the white blood cells to react to fight the infection by producing proteins (antibodies) which are able to bind to and neutralise the infectious agent (antigen). Antibodies work together with other white blood cells (lymphocytes) which are able to identify and kill cells within the body which have become infected by the agent. After vaccine exposure, the body ‘remembers’ the particular antigens so that when they are encountered again it can mount a very rapid and strong immune response preventing the pet from showing clinical signs of disease. It is important to realise that most vaccines work by preventing your pet from becoming ill and may not prevent it from becoming infected.
The issue that is a little confusing with pet vaccines is the frequency of vaccination. In the past, yearly vaccinations were highly recommended and I know I religiously tootled off to the vet each year to make sure my dogs were covered.
As with many things medical, as further research is done, advancements in processes and effectiveness of treatment occur, thereby often changing theories and recommendations.
Over the past couple of years, my vet has recommended that my dogs have their full vaccinations done every three years with heart worm vaccine still being administerd yearly. He is of the opinion that requiring a C5 vaccination every year is over medicating and that 2-3 years is sufficient. (Of course this is once the pet has completed all the baby shots and boosters required).
If you are boarding your pet while you go on holiday, most, if not all, kennels/catteries will require your pet to have a current vaccination certificate that is less than 12 months old (just be aware that being vaccinated against kennel cough does not mean that your dog will not get kennel cough if it is in a boarding facility where other dogs have it).
One of the many benefits of using an in-home pet minding service like Lonely Pets Club is that you don’t have to have an up to date vaccination certificate as your pets will be in the safety of their own home!
That’s all I wanted to chat about – basically, don’t just take for granted that your pet must have a vaccination every year; however, I still personally advocate keeping them covered at whatever interval your vet recommends specifically for your pet. It might just be worth asking the question so that you are not medicating your pet unnecessarily.
Disclaimer: the above is not to be taken as veterinary advice, it is purely a personal opinion. Always consult a qualified veterinary practitioner.