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Vaccinations are a form of preventative care that has been protecting both pets and people for many years and in the last 50 years alone it has saved more lives worldwide than any other medical product or procedure.
Nevertheless, vaccinations have long been a controversial issue, not just for their use in humans, but also in veterinary care. This has led to a great deal of confusion over the effectiveness and necessity of pet vaccinations, with some owners believing that this type of preventative care is an unnecessary expense. This is particularly true of owners of indoor cats, since their feline has virtually no exposure to the outside world and therefore should, in theory, be at no real risk of developing a contagious disease.
A number of owners and a handful of animal scientists believe that it is possible to over-vaccinate our animals – something which is cited as a contributing cause to a variety of alternative health problems. For example, a specific type of cancer known as feline injection-site sarcoma, is a variety of malignant tumors found primarily in cats that has been linked to certain vaccines.
Like most medical treatments, vaccinations can also cause your pet to experience side effects. In most animals these are mild and fairly inconsequential. However, a small number of pets will experience more serious adverse reactions. These side effects are also part of the argument against the use of pet vaccines.
Unfortunately, those owners who choose not to vaccinate their pet as per the recommended schedule are putting not only the health and life of their animal at risk, but also the well-being of the humans around them.
This is because animal vaccines help to control the spread of contagious diseases, many of which can affect people too. For example, rabies. Rabies is a contagious and usually fatal viral disease that is transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal. It is zoonotic, meaning it can spread from animals to humans. Most states have laws that make rabies vaccinations compulsory, and this means that the number of humans in the United States who die from rabies extremely small. However, such regulations are not present in other countries and around the world, one person dies from rabies around every 10 minutes.
When an animal is not sufficiently vaccinated, the spread of disease can be extremely fast. In the past, large groups of both people and animals have been seen to be wiped out by just one serious illness. This is especially true when animals are living in close quarters such as boarding kennels or animal shelters. For this reason, almost all premises like these insist on seeing proof of vaccinations before an animal can be admitted.
Although there are some considerations to be made and side effects associated with the use of vaccines, almost all experts agree that the benefits of protection against serious and deadly diseases far outweigh the risks.
Pet vaccines work in exactly the same way as human ones do. Each vaccine contains antigens. These look and behave just like the organism that causes the disease it is disguising as, essentially tricking your pet’s body into fighting it. Since it is not a real disease and only a small amount is introduced to your pet’s body, her immune system is only mildly triggered. However, if your pet were to contract the real disease, her immune system is sufficiently prepared to recognize it and fight it. In some cases, it may prevent her from becoming ill at all, while in others it will reduce the severity of the illness.
All vaccinations have been found to have a set period of time for which they are most effective. After this, your animal’s ability to fight the disease for which they are vaccinated begins to deteriorate. For this reason, top-up or ‘booster’ vaccinations are recommended on a specific schedule. Failure to adhere to this plan could see your animal left vulnerable to serious infectious diseases.
If you have further questions about pet vaccinations and their importance, our experienced and knowledgeable team at Herschel Animal Clinic would be happy to assist you. Please contact our Jacksonville, FL office for more information.