Many pet owners question whether or not to vaccinate their four-legged family members. The idea behind vaccination is to use a foreign substance called an antigen (virus or bacteria) to trigger the immune system to build a protective antibody response, so that when the body encounters that antigen again in the future it can protect itself. Vaccines use killed bacteria (or parts of bacteria) and attenuated or modified-live viruses. Attenuation is the process of modifying a virus so it is less likely to cause disease, but is still able to stimulate an immune system response. Nothing has benefited mankind and animal kind more than vaccination.
For our pets, vaccination is central to their lifelong health maintenance. Our pets put their noses everywhere, sniffing and tasting everything. This allows bacteria and viruses, many of which are maintained in the wildlife, stray dog and stray cat populations, to invade – leaving our pets susceptible to disease.
Your pet’s long-term health is a team effort and involves an open discussion of vaccines and vaccination timing between you and your pet’s veterinarian. There are many vaccines available. For dogs and cats there is a core group of vaccinations that every pet should receive.