Pets and Vaccinations

Jul 17, 2021

Your pet's best friend (other than you) may be your veterinarian!
Credit wuestenigel (Marco Verch Professional Photographer [Flickr]

Vaccines can help prevent illnesses and avoid costly treatments for preventable diseases - or stop diseases from being passed between animals.  That is especially important if your pet comes in contact with wildlife or unvaccinated domestic dogs.  

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Vaccinations are still big news, especially in states that have low rates of COVID vaccinations. Even zoos are vaccinating some animals that are considered high risk, including big cats and apes. So what about your own pet? Should your dog or cat be vaccinated against COVID?

Most veterinarians agree there is no indication our household pets are catching or transmitting the disease, so there’s not much benefit to vaccinating them for COVID – but, that doesn’t mean they don’t need any vaccinations.

There is ample evidence that dogs and cats can develop rabies and transmit it to humans, so for household pets, most states require at least an annual rabies vaccination. But, there are additional important vaccines that can protect your best friend from other serious, even life-threatening diseases.

In addition to the rabies shot, your dog should have annual vaccinations against distemper, canine parvovirus, and canine hepatitis. When your cat receives the rabies shot, your vet may recommend vaccines for panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calicivirus and rhinotracheitis. There is also an effective feline leukemia virus vaccine. Not all vaccines must be administered every year. Talk to your veterinarian about the best vaccination regimen and schedule for your pet.

Puppies and kittens usually get antibodies from their mother’s milk (as long as the mother is healthy), so they shouldn’t need any vaccines until they are six to eight weeks old.

Without vaccinations, your pet could be susceptible to viral attacks that may prove deadly, attacks that can be prevented by vaccines that arm the animal’s immune system with the ability to fight off the invading virus. Working with your veterinarian, you can help your best friend have its best chance to live a long and healthy life, when you’re speaking of pets.