The saying goes that prevention is better than cure.
Sugarloaf Animal Hospital’s chief vet Dr Katie Powell agrees.
And, she’s reminding everyone of the importance of keeping our pets vaccinated.
Ensuring our pets stay current with vaccinations is the best way to build a healthy foundation for a longer life by avoiding preventable diseases.
Vaccinations help the immune system recognise and remember organisms for more efficient and rapid responses against their next encounter with the same virus.
And, there are some viruses, such as parvovirus for dogs, where regular outbreaks mean your pet is almost certain to be exposed at some point.
Vaccinations have three main benefits: protection from diseases prevalent in the local wildlife or environment; creating a “herd immunity” effect, as not all pets can produce the necessary antibodies; and reducing the effect of any illness and increasing the chance of recovery if your pet comes into contact with a virus.
This can also reduce the cost of treatment – an important consideration with only one in 15 pets covered by insurance.
Prevention is also cheaper than cure.
Should you ever want or need to put your pet into a boarding facility, it will be a requirement that your pet is fully-vaccinated, so that other animals are not put at risk.
As with any medical treatment, vaccinations are not risk free.
However, the occurrence of severe side-effects is extremely rare, and for those animals that do have a reaction, it is likely to be an extremely mild fever and perhaps a brief loss of appetite.
Should anything more serious occur, which is likely to happen in the first few hours after the vaccination, you should immediately seek veterinary care.
The first thing you need to consider with a new pet is vaccinations, starting around six-to-eight weeks of age – dependent on species.
Young animals have a less developed immune system when weaned off their mother’s milk — often around six-to-10 weeks of age – so are most predisposed to contracting diseases.
These initial vaccinations such be completed before your pet is allowed to socialise with other animals, or taken to public places.
Multiple doses are usually required to ensure your pet’s body stimulates enough antibodies.
It is important to remember that not completing a series of vaccines is almost as bad as not having any… and will leave your pet vulnerable to infection.
It is not the case that if your pet has had half of the necessary vaccinations, it will still get 50% protection.
To provide optimal protection from disease, the full and ongoing course of treatment is required.
This is especially true for older pets, which need to remain vaccinated, as their ability to overcome illness diminishes.
Maintaining vaccinations has another advantage in that it allows your Vet to conduct a full physical and wellness examination of your pet.
Regular check-ups (at least annually, but it may need to be every six-months for some species) is the best chance for early detection of diseases, with the risk growing steadily as your pet ages.
At a minimum, the “core” vaccines are essential to protect against the most common risks, such as “cat flu,” parvovirus for dogs, distemper in ferrets, and calicivirus for rabbits.
Additional vaccines may be needed for emerging diseases, travel or boarding facilities.
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