How important is it to vaccinate your pets? All around us, there exists dirt and germs that pets can quickly get into contact with. These germs harbor bacteria and viruses that could cause severe infections in otherwise healthy animals. But what if there was something you could do to save your pet from the dangers and symptoms of a serious disease? This is where vaccines come in.

When you get your pet vaccinated, you protect it from some of the most notorious infectious diseases rampant among dogs and cats. These include parvovirus, rabies, canine distemper, and respiratory tract infections.

Vaccines make it possible for your pets to interact with other pets without risking their health. Failure to vaccinate your pets exposes them to highly transmissible diseases making them a risk to other animals and to any humans they come across.

Read on to find out answers to common questions about pet vaccinations and their impact on their well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do Pet Vaccinations Work?
Vaccines are introduced to your pet in the form of an injection. This injection consists of a virus or a micro-organism that’s either alive, weakened, or dead. It could also contain proteins or toxins from whatever organism, which causes the disease you are vaccinating your pet against.

The goal is to prompt your pet’s immune system to generate protective antibodies to prevent the pet from contracting dangerous diseases. If the pet becomes sick from the same organisms, it was vaccinated against; then, their body is well able to recognize the foreign micro-organisms and fight them off successfully.

Note that vaccines only work if the pet is healthy. Vaccinating a pet that is already sick can only make matters worse. This because vaccines are designed more as preventative measures and not as curative measures.

What risks come with pet vaccinations?
A small fraction of animals will lose their appetite and show signs of a mild fever after getting their vaccine shots. These effects wear out in a couple of days. Alternatively, most animals go about life normally and show no signs of irregularity after getting vaccinated.

There are one or two cases of cats or dogs exhibiting adverse allergic reactions right after getting their shots. Given that the animal is tended to swiftly, then he or she can be successfully treated. It is prudent to inform the vet if your pet is quite sensitive to certain foods or other known external factors.

What diseases can I have my pets vaccinated against?
Cats and dogs suffer varying infectious diseases. If you own a cat, you should consider having him/her vaccinated against serious illnesses like Chlymidid, Feline enteritis, Feline parvovirus, Rabies, Feline Leukemia, and Cat flu syndrome.

If your pet is a dog, they should be vaccinated against diseases like Rabies, Canine viral hepatitis, Kennel cough, Canine parainfluenza, Leptospirosis, and Canine parvovirus.

Generally, pet vaccines are divided into core and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are designed and prescribed for pets everywhere, irrespective of location. These vaccines help protect against infectious diseases that can be found everywhere.
Non-core vaccines, on the other hand, are only offered to pets that live in an area where a particular disease is prevalent. Be sure to consult with your pet’s vet to find out which non-core vaccines he can recommend.

How many times should I get my pet vaccinated?
It is advisable to get your pets vaccinated against various diseases during their early stages of life. As the pet grows older, the effects of the vaccine wear out. This makes it necessary to ensure that they undergo re-vaccination, otherwise known as booster vaccines.

Booster vaccines work as reminders for the immune system to stay on guard and to generate more antibodies to protect against various infectious diseases. It is usually up to the vet to decide how many booster shots your cat or your dog needs as they develop.

It is recommended for puppies their first three vaccinations before they are six months old. Kittens should also get at least two injections before they are twelve weeks old for complete protection.

Why is it recommended for pups and kittens to get more shots?
Older pets have faced several health issues and are more exposed to their surroundings. This means that they have already built defenses against some common viruses and bacteria and have a more robust immune system as a result.
Younger kittens and pups have immune systems that are barely mature. Even as they receive antibodies from suckling their mother’s milk, they remain vulnerable to infections and less able to fight off diseases. It is therefore recommended by veterinarians for younger animals to get more shots. This enables them to survive the first few months right after birth.
How soon after vaccination does my pet gain full immunity?

It will take some time for your pet’s body to detect and respond to the foreign agents present in its system after getting the shot. Sometimes, it takes up to five days for the pet’s system to recognize the vaccines. After that, its immune system begins to produce antigens against the virus, bacteria or organism in the vaccine.

It is, therefore, wrong to assume that your pet is safe from all diseases and to let them roam free immediately after getting vaccinated. Allow for a few weeks for the pet’s body to process the vaccines and to finish building its defenses before they can be entirely protected from severe infectious diseases. In cases where the pet needs to go back to the pet for a second or third round of vaccines, it may take longer to attain full immunity.

Understand More about Pet Vaccinations
It’s no surprise to find pet owners feeling skeptical about vaccinating their pets, deeming it unsafe or unnecessary. It is not enough to preach about the benefits of vaccinating pets. However, the threat of your pet suffering deadly infections doesn’t go away regardless of your stand on the issue of vaccination.
Your refusal to vaccinate your pet not only poses a danger to their health and well-being, but if a larger fraction of pet owners refuse to vaccinate their pets, it could lead to a resurgence or a breakout of certain diseases that were considered obsolete.

Note that deadly viruses and bacteria remain present in your surroundings. All it takes is an unvaccinated pet to stumble on such bacteria, and viruses then move on to roam freely with other pets. From there, the disease starts spreading like wildfire from one pet to another. The only safe pets are those that have already been vaccinated and built strong defenses against the disease in question.

If left uncontained, the disease is highly likely to jump from pets to humans. Years ago, a disease like rabies was a reserve for dogs only. But as time went by, the condition turned zoonotic, meaning that it became powerful enough to be passed on to humans.

If, as a pet owner, you refuse to vaccinate your pets, then you place yourself at the front line of infection, should your pets develop certain zoonotic diseases.

No doubt, millions of animals enjoy optimum health, thanks to vaccinations. Common diseases that wreaked havoc years before are now a thing of the past. The bottom line here is after years of research and testing; there is sufficient evidence proving that pet vaccinations are indeed safe and effective against preventing infection and death.

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  • Mary is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Creature Companions where she writes about brachycephalic dog breeds. Prior to her current path she worked as a researcher in animal conservation at Imperial College in London, UK. After receiving her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in animal science Mary has devoted herself to making a difference in the lives of animals. Mary has always been passionate about animal welfare and conservation and enjoys being able to share her knowledge to provide valuable information to her readers.