Most of the nation’s 74.8 million dogs and 90 million cats make at least a twice-yearly visit to the veterinarian. Those visits often include at least some vaccinations to keep the family pets from suffering from serious infectious diseases. We asked Dr. Al Paredes, Veterinarian Palm Harbor, Florida about vaccines and protecting pets against the risk of disease.
“Vaccinations are still the foundation of preventive medicine for dogs and cats,” said Dr. Paredes, “Vaccinating a pet is considered to be a beneficial medical procedure by most veterinarians trained in the science of canine and feline medicine. Vaccinations, in fact, carry very little risk of adverse reactions in your pet. However, as with any medical protocol, the rare instance of an adverse reaction always exists.”
How Do Pet Vaccinations Work?
“As in humans”, reported Al Paredes, “canine and feline vaccines protect pets against disease by allowing pets to build up a protective immune response before exposure to the disease the vaccine protects against. There are a few different ways which vaccines function. They typically provide
1) a killed form of the infectious agent which cannot cause the disease, or
2) a tiny portion of the infectious agent which, by itself, cannot cause the disease, or
3) a live, but modified form of the infectious agent which has been custom-made so that it does not produce disease.
All three of these types of vaccines allow the animal to react mildly to the vaccine in such a way that it provides protection to the pet against the actual disease itself. Some vaccines (such as the Bordetella vaccine) can cause mild symptoms of the disease in the pet for a short time, but also produce immunity against a much more serious case of the disease.”
What Are Normal Pet Vaccinations Reactions?
Dr. Paredes stated, “An overwhelming majority of pets have no ill effects from the vaccinations at all, but it is not a cause for alarm if your pet has mild symptoms after vaccination. Symptoms may include:
lethargy and listlessness for a short time,
very mild fever,
mild swelling or discomfort at the site of the injection.”
What Are Abnormal Pet Vaccinations Reactions?
Dr. Richard B. Ford, DVM, MS, DACVIM, DACVPM (Hon) said at the 2008 ACVIM Forum* “Vaccination is, in fact, a medical procedure. Despite a relatively good safety record, there is always some degree of risk in administering biological agents in a dog or cat.”
Dr. Paredes concurs, saying, “In rare instances, a pet may suffer from an abnormal, allergic reaction after vaccination. Symptoms that warrant a return trip to the veterinarian pet clinic that administered the vaccine are:
itching or developing a rash or “hives”,
swelling of the face and/or eyelids
the formation of a specific type of tumor, known as a sarcoma (especially in cats.)”
Sarcomas are known to be extremely locally invasive and aggressive in nature. However, vaccination sarcomas are rare. The current estimate of vaccination caused sarcoma is less than 1 in 10,000 cats according to a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association by Drs. GE Moore et al (Vol. 231, 2007).
Good Reasons for Vaccinating Pets
Despite the fact that vaccinations can cause adverse reactions in pets, many of the diseases routinely vaccinated against can, and do, cause serious and life-threatening disease in dogs and cats. Moreover, some of these diseases also pose a serious health risk to people. Protecting family pets against these diseases can also help to protect the pet owner themselves as well as the general public. “In some cases,” Dr. Paredes cautioned, “vaccines are mandated by law, as with vaccination against rabies.”
Get our special offer discount coupons for vaccinations and spay neuter service at www.spaVet.com