Vaccines are a vital tool that can protect your pet against some very dangerous diseases. While many of these diseases have been held in check by thorough vaccination of domesticated animals, they are always present in the environment and ready to take advantage of any lapses in vaccinations. Because these diseases will always have access to animal hosts in the wild, getting your pets the right shots is the best way to ensure they never contract anything that’s preventable through vaccination.
Leptospirosis is one major disease that has been making a comeback recently. It’s caused by a bacteria that your dog or cat can pick up from contact with several species of wild animals in the area including raccoons and rats, most often from sniffing their urine. The main dangers from this disease involve liver or kidney damage, which can sometimes be permanent even after the bacteria are eliminated. But because there is a very effective vaccine available to prevent this disease, it’s possible to protect your pet from these potential dangers.
Another major disease that pets need to be vaccinated against is Rabies. “Rabies is prevalent among most mammals including foxes, raccoons, skunks, and bats, all of which could bite your pet and cause the disease,” says Dr. Paul Sedlacek of Animal Clinic of Morris Plains (ACMP). All of these animals are present in the North Jersey area, and you never know when your pet may come into contact with them. Rabies vaccinations are very effective, but if your pet actually develops the disease, there is no cure, and you could be at risk of infection as well.
The good news is that the rabies vaccine does not need to be given as often as was previously thought. The schedule used to mandate that all adult animals be given a shot once a year, but now that we know the immunity lasts longer, we can comfortably give the vaccine every two to three years.
One common disease that’s a threat for dogs but not really for cats is Lyme Disease. Fortunately, we do have a very effective vaccine for dogs even though there’s not even a Lyme Disease vaccine for humans. Because cats almost never contract this disease, there is no vaccine for them. Lyme Disease is transmitted mainly by deer ticks, and because these are so small, there is very little chance you would notice one on your dog in time to stop it from attaching and transmitting the disease. Deer ticks are common all over North Jersey, especially in any type of wooded area frequented by deer, including parks.
The types of vaccines that are appropriate for your pet to receive vary depending on the type of animal, how old they are, and the types of environments they’re normally exposed to. For instance, cats that are kept indoors may not need all of the vaccinations that outdoor cats receive. But if there is even a small chance that your pet will be exposed to a vaccine-preventable disease, it’s best to get them the shot so they are protected.
The bottom line is that the risks involved in getting your pets vaccinated are tiny, especially when you consider the vital protections vaccines confer. There are some known risks associated with certain vaccines, like vaccine-induced sarcomas. But only one in 10,000 cats develop this type of complication, and without vaccination, many more would contract serious or even deadly diseases. Pet vaccines are very carefully controlled and are all of very high quality.
Your vet is your best resource when determining which vaccines your pet should receive. Before vaccinations were developed, many more domestic animals suffered and died from diseases that most pet owners are unaware of or unfamiliar with today. Vaccines have made them so uncommon that people don’t completely understand how dangerous these diseases can be, and so they sometimes conclude that vaccination is not all that important. But the truth is that getting your pet the appropriate vaccinations is essential to helping them stay healthy and letting them live long, happy lives.
Dr. Paul has a strong interest in avian and exotic animal medicine and surgery, as well as small animal internal medicine and surgery.
He has provided services for numerous breeders, kennels, aviaries, and mini zoos.