August is National Immunization Awareness Month, created to remind people how important it is to keep their vaccinations up to date. But that advice isn’t just for humans—it’s vital for pets as well.
Vaccinating your pet is a relatively inexpensive but very important way to protect his or her health. We think it’s so important that during August, every pet coming in for an annual or semi-annual vaccine visit will receive a free bag of treats and be entered into a drawing for a FREE annual visit!
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we get about vaccinations:
Q: Are vaccines safe?
A: There is risk associated with all medical procedures, but serious reactions from vaccines are rare. Given the fact that vaccinations have protected millions of animals from illness and death caused by disease, the benefits far outweigh any risk. At Garden Oaks Veterinary Clinic, we have seen VERY FEW adverse results and it’s our policy to minimize any risk by spacing out the administration of “killed vaccines”, which are the ones more likely to cause a reaction.
Q: Why is important to vaccinate?
A: Vaccinations are your pet’s first line of defense and can also keep them from transmitting some diseases to your human family. Even diseases that have become uncommon can still be present in the environment and if pets aren’t protected, they can initiate an outbreak.
Q: Which vaccines does my pet need?
A: “Core” vaccines are those recommended—and possibly mandated by law—for most pets.
Core vaccines include:
- Rabies (dogs and cats)
- DA2PPV – Distemper, Hepatitis, Adenovirus 2, Parvo and Parainfluenza (dogs)
- FVRCP – Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (cats)
Other non-core, but highly suggested vaccinations for outdoor cats include FeLV to protect against feline leukemia. For dogs, bordetella is a must if they frequent dog parks, boarding kennels, or any place where they’re socializing with other canines as well as leptospirosis as the bacteria can survive for long periods of time in our moist Houston soil. Also, Your Garden Oaks Veterinary Clinic doctor may also recommend canine influenza (CIV), Lyme disease and rattlesnake vaccinations depending on your dog’s lifestyle.
Q: Does my indoor cat really need vaccinations?
Yes! It’s important to note that even pets who live primarily indoors should be vaccinated, as they can still be exposed to disease if they accidentally escape or interact with other animals in or outside the home. We can advise you about which vaccinations are right for your pet.
Q: How often does my pet need to be vaccinated?
A: Vaccinating annually has been the rule for veterinarians, but we’re now learning that some vaccines provide less than a year’s worth of immunity while others last well after a year has passed. That’s why most hospitals, including Garden Oaks Veterinary Clinic, customize vaccination plans based on the needs of their patients.
Q: What kind of reaction should I watch for after my pet is vaccinated?
A: Occasionally, some pets may experience mild side effects after getting their shots. These include localized swelling, itching, sneezing, lethargy and decreased appetite. You should make a call to the vet, however, if your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms:
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Itchy skin that develops into hives
- Swelling of the muzzle and around the face, neck, or eyes
- Severe coughing or difficulty breathing
Q: What about titer testing? Can it eliminate the need for a vaccination?
A: Tests that measure antibody response, also known as serologic titer tests, can help vets determine the need for revaccination in limited cases. Unfortunately, the tests don’t tell us if the specific concentration of an antibody is protective. Titer tests are also not accepted as establishing immunity anywhere in the U.S. and cannot be used in lieu of revaccination.
Want to know more? To update your pet’s vaccinations, make an appointment online or call us at (713) 999-6095