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5 Important Questions About Pet Vaccines

September 21, 2020
5 Important Questions About Pet Vaccines

1. What are vaccines and how do they work?

Vaccines for companion animals are a key element when it comes to your pet’s health and well-being. Regardless of how they are given, the majority of vaccines work by stimulating the immune system. This leads to the production of specially trained antibodies, equipped to recognize and attack the disease being vaccinated against. Vaccines can work to prevent a disease entirely or to lessen the severity of symptoms.  

2. Why are vaccines important for my pet?

Unfortunately, there are several diseases that can kill your furry family members. But even worse, many do not have effective treatments. One example is the Rabies virus; it is 100% fatal for both pets and people, and there is no treatment only prevention.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has compiled a great list on the

  • Vaccinations prevent many pet illnesses.
  • Vaccinations can help avoid costly treatments for diseases that can be prevented.
  • Vaccinations prevent diseases that can be passed not only from animal to animal but also from animal to human.
  • Diseases prevalent in wildlife, such as rabies and distemper, can infect unvaccinated pets.
  • Many areas, local or state ordinances require certain vaccinations of household pets

3. Why does my puppy or kitten need a series or vaccinations?

The youngest pets are some of the most vulnerable. They will inherit temporary immunity from a fully vaccinated mother when she passes on her antibodies. But as stated above they are only temporary, typically lasting no more than 16 weeks after birth. This makes the vaccine series performed at the veterinary office crucial to puppies and kittens. According to the AVMA website “…the first dose of a vaccine serves to prime the animal’s immune system against the virus or bacteria while subsequent doses help further stimulate the immune system to produce the important antibodies needed to protect an animal from diseases.”It’s a foundation of protective antibodies that they will depend on for years to come.

4. Is my pet 100% protected?

Depending on the type of vaccination given, a vaccine’s protection given after an initial series can last for a few years. However, the length of time is determined by several factors, and is impossible to determine without a titer test. Fortunately, vaccine companies provide researched guidelines with a length of time the average pet remains protected. In the same guidelines recommendations for booster schedules are also made. When followed yearly boosters are often done for the average pet to remain optimally protected.

5. Are they safe?

The American Veterinary Medical Association states that “any type of medical treatment has associated risks associated, but the risk should be weighed against the benefits of protecting your pet, your family and your community from potentially fatal diseases. The majority of pets respond well to vaccines.”

Some common vaccine side effects your pet may experience can include:

  • Slight discomfort at the injection site
  • Mild fever
  • Temporary coughing and/or sneezing

These side effects are not life threatening and can be managed by your veterinary professional before or after a vaccination is given. The protection they receive far outweighs the temporary side effects that are possible when a vaccine is given.

Vaccinations. (n.d.). Retrieved July 31, 2018, from


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