Vaccinations are a critical part of your pet’s health care. Despite what we may like to think, our pets encounter illness every day. Vaccination is the single most effective measure you can take to keep your dog or cat healthy. It’s one of the ways we can fight back against diseases that threaten their safety and our health. We understand that you might have some questions regarding pet vaccinations, so we decided to answer some of the most common ones we get asked.
How do vaccines protect my pet?
Your pet’s immune system constantly defends their body against foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. When their immune system encounters an invader (i.e., an antigen), it forms antibodies that react to that specific pathogen. While some of the antibodies stimulate an active immune response, others tuck away to become memory cells that will remember the specific antigen and trigger an immune response if your pet reencounters it. Vaccines include weakened or killed antigens that stimulate this process and help your pet’s body build a strong defense without exposure to an actual disease.
Why do puppies and kittens need so many vaccines?
Puppies and kittens receive passive immunity from their mother’s milk, which begins to fade as they age. As a result, puppies and kittens are vaccinated every three to four weeks until they are 16 weeks old to prevent a gap in protection that will leave them vulnerable to infection.
Does my inside pet, who rarely encounters other pets, really need vaccines?
While pets who are exposed to other animals are at an increased risk of infection, no pet is entirely safe. Microscopic bacteria and viruses can be carried on inanimate objects, such as clothing, shoes, and pet care items. Many diseases are spread by common wildlife species, including rodents, skunks, raccoons, and opossums, who wander freely through most backyards. Other diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks, which can sneak inside through a tiny crack or catch a ride on your clothing.
What vaccines does my pet need?
Our veterinary team carefully considers your pet’s lifestyle and risk factors before making vaccine recommendations. Core vaccines are those that all pets receive, either because all pets are at risk of exposure or because the disease is extremely dangerous, such as with rabies. Other vaccines, such as those for Lyme disease for dogs and Chlamydia for cats, are optional and are given only to pets who are likely to be exposed.