Vaccinations and Your Pet
Keeping our companions happy and healthy, Part 1.
Over the years we have found that vaccination protocols on pets have changed slightly for a number of reasons. Many of our clients often ask: “Are vaccinations really necessary?” The answer is absolutely YES.
The real question is: “What vaccinations are necessary?”
At the Fox Memorial Clinic, we believe that pets are individuals with different lifestyles and therefore may have different vaccination needs.
In this first article of a two part series outlining the importance of vaccinations, we will focus on felines and their needs.
But before we talk about feline specific vaccinations, let’s learn a little bit about vaccinations and why they are so important for both cats and dogs.
1. It is our duty as pet “parents” to keep our pets healthy. It is also important to follow the laws regarding pet care. In the State of Connecticut, Rabies vaccines are a legal requirement for both cats and dogs.
2. Vaccinations have made certain infectious diseases like distemper a rarity. But these diseases are still out in the world and CAN be contracted by a pet that has never received their vaccinations or has a spotty vaccination record.
3. Vaccines work by injecting a small amount of the virus into your pet in order to stimulate their immune system to produce antibodies against the disease. (It works the same way for people.) This is only of value if given to a healthy pet as prevention. In most cases, the vaccines are not very helpful if the animal has already been exposed to infection.
4. Vaccines become fully effective when puppies and kittens reach approximately 20-24 weeks of age provided that they have received the vaccines according to the protocols advised by your veterinarian and the types of vaccine associated with the risk factors in your geographical location.
5. No vaccine is 100% effective. This is because of the nature of the vaccine itself or because an individual pet’s immune system does not react to the vaccine properly.
6. In the vast majority of cases, pets receive their vaccinations without any side effects or adverse reactions. For those few pets that do experience difficulties, side effects include: immediate allergic reactions (like severe swelling) that develop within two hours and general depression/apathy for a day or two following administration. Allergic reactions need to be treated immediately and prolonged depression beyond a day should be discussed with your veterinarian.
7. Recent studies have brought to light two other types of side effect, both of which are still under a great deal of debate within the veterinary community. Long-term reactions: If you are concerned about any vaccination worsening any problem that your pet is prone to, you should discuss it with your veterinarian. Fibrosarcomas: These are tumors that develop at the site of the injection and only take place in a small percentage of pets vaccinated. There is a standardized, recommended placement for vaccine injections sites. These sites are used by most veterinarians. The vast majority of practicioners advise that the benefits of the vaccinations significantly outweigh the risks.
FVRCP. This is a 4-in-one vaccination advised for all cats that protects against the following diseases:
· Feline Panleukopenia/Distemper…highly contagious and causes fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. Onset is often sudden and could be rapidly fatal.
· Rhinotracheitis (Herpes virus)…highly contagious and causes sneezing, loss of appetite, depression, fever, eye inflammation and as the disease progresses - drainage from nose and eyes. Severe infection can be fatal especially in kittens.
· Calicivirus…highly contagious and appears similar to Rhinotracheitis. Additional symptoms include painful sores on the tongue and mouth.
· Pneumonitis…this is caused by Chlamydia psittaci. Symptoms are similar to both Rhinotracheitis and Calicivirus.
Rabies. Rabies can affect all warm-blooded animals including humans. Transmission usually occurs from the bite of an infected animal. Today, the main reservoir of Rabies is in wild animals. The virus attacks the brain and central nervous system and is almost always fatal.
Leukemia. This is one of the most dangerous infectious diseases that are a risk factor for cats today. Cats can harbor the infection for many years before becoming symptomatic and can be a potential source of infection to many other cats during that time. There is no specific treatment or cure for the disease and the end result is usually death or necessary euthanasia. Symptoms include: Immune suppression, chronic infections, anemia, weight loss, poor general health, leukemia and other cancers. Vaccination will prevent this disease from occurring and is highly recommended for cats that venture outdoors since they are likely to come into contact with other cats who may be carriers.
FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis). This is a serious, multi-systemic, viral disease of cats. The virus can affect the abdominal lining, liver, kidneys, eyes, brain and more. Symptoms are variable and include fever, weight loss, abdominal swelling, difficulty breathing, anemia and more. At this point, testing for this disease is not accurate, diagnosis is difficult and there is no adequate treatment available consequently, this disease is usually fatal. Currently, the Fox Memorial Clinic does not carry this vaccine, so please, talk to the doctor regarding any questions you may have about this disease.
Coming in July…Canine Vaccine Education.
Visit http://www.foxclinic.org/ for information on Fox's Vaccine clinics and other services.