Can The Anti-Vaccination Movement Hurt Your Pet?

30 March 2015
 Categories: , Blog

Outbreaks of human diseases that can be controlled through vaccination are making headlines throughout the U.S., with medical experts lamenting lower vaccination rates that may lead to a higher prevalence of diseases like measles. Did you know that some pet owners are also choosing not to vaccinate against common dog and cat diseases for similar reasons?

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recently expressed concerns that a lack of vaccination could bring back animal diseases that have nearly been eradicated, like the domestic dog version of rabies.

Do Vaccines Work the Same in Humans and Pets?

For the most part, vaccines work the same whether they are for humans or for animals. The vaccine stimulates the immune system to mount a response. If, in the future, an individual is exposed to the disease, his or her body will have antibodies that can help resist that illness.

The more animals that are completely vaccinated, the more that young and sick animals who can't get the shots are protected. So, getting your healthy pet fully vaccinated means that you're contributing to keeping the whole pet community safe and free from diseases. In the case of a disease like rabies, this extends to protecting humans from getting the illness as well.

Which Vaccines Should Be Given?

All states require that dogs be given the rabies vaccine, but different states have different requirements for how often it should be required. There is a one-year rabies shot and a three-year rabies shot to cover these different states.

Other vaccines are as follows:

Core shots for canines:

  • distemper
  • canine adenovirus-2
  • canine parvovirus-2
  • rabies

Core shots for felines:

  • feline panleukopenia (distemper)
  • feline viral rhinotracheitis
  • feline calicivirus
  • rabies

Other vaccines may be available and recommended by your veterinary professional. Your vet will tell you how often these need to be given and which additional vaccines can cover your pet depending on its lifestyle and needs.

Are There Risks With Pet Vaccines?

Yes, just like with humans, there are side effects and risks from vaccines. Many pet owners will notice fatigue, a reduced appetite, and a slight fever after their pets get shots. These side effects typically are much less than the issues caused by getting the actual disease.

To minimize your pet's risk, work with your veterinarian to come up with a schedule for shots. Most municipalities and states have differing regulations when it comes to which shots are required, but otherwise you can spread out the shots as you and your vet see fit. Science supports vaccinating companion animals to allow them to live longer and free of many diseases that were once commonplace.