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A microscopic examinationThis past month we have observed National Pet Immunization Month – a month devoted to educating and raising awareness about the importance of immunizing our furry friends. Infectious and sometimes life-threatening illnesses like parvovirus and distemper can present serious risk to any unvaccinated pet, even if they primarily live indoors.

Diseases that used to be more prevalent, such as the fatal and zoonotic (meaning transmissible to humans) rabies virus, have significantly decreased in the number of cases since the vaccine became available and is required by law. There are many more illnesses, however, which have not diminished and can be serious and life-threatening if your pet catches them.

Read on to learn more about why pet immunization is so important to your pet’s health and also helps protect other pets and people.

Core Vaccines and Why They’re Necessary

Vaccines (or vaccinations) consist of antigens which resemble the disease(s) that are being vaccinated against, but do not actually cause the disease. This slight introduction of an invading organism causes the body’s immune defenses to “prepare to fight.” By introducing these antigens in minute doses, the immune system becomes better equipped to fight off the actual virus should the pet come into contact with it.

An example of why immunizing your pet is so necessary when preventing the spread of disease was the outbreak of the canine influenza virus in 2015. While canine flu isn’t as serious as parvo, the reason for the rapid spread of the illness was that it was a new virus and dogs hadn’t been vaccinated against it.

Core vaccines, or those recommended by your veterinarian as well as AAHA, are determined by a few factors:

  • Level of risk
  • How infectious the disease is
  • Is it a life-threatening illness for pets?
  • Is it a zoonotic illness that can harm humans?

The rabies virus is one of the best examples of a fatal disease that requires pets to be vaccinated – not only by recommendation, but by law.

In most cases, “core vaccines” are the following for dogs:

  • Canine parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Canine hepatitis
  • Rabies

For cats:

  • Panleukopenia (feline distemper)
  • Feline calicivirus
  • Feline herpesvirus type I (rhinotracheitis)
  • Rabies

Beyond these vaccines, your veterinarian may assess your pet’s risk for other illnesses that are perhaps not as prevalent but are serious in nature or could threaten others within the home.

At Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital, we discuss factors such as lifestyle, travel plans, age, health, and other factors that may increase a pet’s need for additional vaccines. These might include Lyme disease, leptospirosis, Bordetella (kennel cough), and feline leukemia vaccines.

Personalized Approach for Safe Immunization

Because each pet is unique, we take the time to assess which vaccines might be necessary to ensure good health and immunity for your pet. With a personalized vaccination schedule for your fur friend, we can offer safe and effective immunization from a wide range of diseases affecting cats and dogs.

If you would like a consultation to discuss a vaccination schedule for your best friend or make a wellness appointment, we welcome your call. We’re  also more than happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have about making the best health choices for your pet.