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Posted on 05-01-2014

Currently most veterinarians now look at the vaccination needs of each animal as an individual, rather than vaccinating for everything.  There are "core vaccines" which are usally given because of the severity of the disease and the relative safety of the vaccine.  Canine Parvovirus is a good example of a core vaccine.  There are also "non-core vaccines".  They are not considered necessary for every pet.  These may be given if the risk of disease is significant.  For example, feline leukemia vaccine is usually only given to cats allowed outdoors since the disease is transmitted by direct contact with an infected cat - most commonly by feral or roaming cats.  There are numerous vaccines in both the "core" and "non-core" categories.

Most veterinarians now try to consider the pet's lifestyle on an individual basis so the pet can be vaccinated only against diseases for which it is at risk.  We now feel that while vaccines are generally safe, if there is little or no risk, there is no point in subjecting the pet to unnecessary discomfort, the risk of rare but not unheard of vaccine reaction, or the possibility that the pet may be predisposed to allergy or immune system disorder.  Lowering the cost to the pet owner is of course a benefit and, while no one is sure about the allergy or autoimmune connection, why take the risk if there is little or no benefit?

The best approach is to talk with your veterinarian about your pet's habits, health issues, family health history, if known, and any other factors that you feel may affect your pet's vaccine needs and risks.  There is no blanket recommendation for all dogs or all cats.  Your veterinarian is trained to help you make the best health care decisions for your pet, including which vaccine protection is needed.

There are lots of vaccines out there and we want your pet to have exactly the ones it needs.  Call us with questions, make an appointment for a consultation, or come by and let us help you decide which vaccine protection your special friend needs.

Only occasionally do veterinarians encounter canine or feline distemper these days.  Parvovirus, once seen almost daily in veterinary clinics, is fairly uncommon.  Feline leukemia has all but disappeared in well managed pet cats.  The reason for the rarity of these diseases?  Vaccines!

Vaccines do work well.  The immune system is fooled into mounting a defense against the vaccine pathogen even though there is no real infection.  The disease is then "remembered" by the immune system, so that if the host is later exposed to the real thing, the immune defenses react rapidly to eliminate the invader and prevent the disease.

There was a time when veterinarians recommended that any pet be vaccinated against every disease possible.  The thinking back then was that vaccines were totally benign, that they could only help.  Little was known of allergies or autoimmune disease in animals.  Today there are studies that suggest to some researchers that over-vaccination may make animals more likely to develop allergy or immune system disorders later in life.  While these studies are far from conclusive and many veterinarians prefer to reserve their opinions, the studies have made the profession take a closer look at vaccination recommendations.

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