We all cringe at the image of a long hypodermic needle, but we all know how important vaccinations are to our long-term health.  Our pets are no different. Vaccines help prevent many of the illnesses that plague our pets throughout their lives, and vaccinations have long been considered an easy and effective way to ensure that our dog or cat lives a long, healthy life.

As you might imagine, there are a host of diseases that can infect pets, from distemper to hepatitis to bordatella.  Fortunately, science has done a good job of keeping up with nature and, as a result, there are as many different types of vaccines as there are different types of illnesses.

Now, it goes without saying (probably) that a vaccination is a medical procedure and like any, has the administering of vaccinations has its risks.  These risks are minimal, of course, but when considering a regimen of vaccinations for your pet is imperative that you discuss it with your South Florida area veterinarian. He, or she, is intimately familiar with both the benefits and the risks as they pertain to your particular pet… all must be considered, including but not limited to age, size, breed, health, weight and lifestyle.  Your vet is the keeper of this information, so start there!

Understanding Vaccines
So, what exactly is a vaccine?  Vaccines help prepare the body’s immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. Contrary to popular belief, injecting someone with a vaccine is not the same as injecting them with the illness. Vaccines contain antigens, which look like the disease-causing organism to the immune system but are not, and don’t actually CAUSE disease. When the vaccine is introduced to the body, the immune system is mildly stimulated.

Vaccines are very important to managing the health of your pet. That said, not every pet needs to be vaccinated against every disease. It is very important to discuss with your Boca Raton veterinarian a vaccination protocol that’s right for your pet based on the factors mentioned earlier, i.e., age, size, breed, health, weight and lifestyle.

Core Vaccines. What are they?

Think of core vaccines as the regular maintenance you have performed on your car.  It covers the challenges that you are absolutely sure that you’ll encounter.  Your oil will get dirty and ineffective. Your tires will wear and need replacement.  These are expected.  Core vaccines are administered in anticipation of your pet encountering expected diseases.   So, what are these expected illnesses?

For Dogs: Canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk. These include vaccines against Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira bacteria.

For Cats: Panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus type I (rhinotracheitis) and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the cat’s lifestyle; these include vaccines for feline leukemia virus, Bordetella, Chlamydophila felis and feline immunodeficiency virus.

Your veterinarian knows what is best for your pet.
Your Boca Raton veterinarian will put your pet on a vaccination schedule so that he or she is “always covered,” as it were.  Your vet will instruct you in some of the possible side effects that can occur and what you should do should you encounter them. While harmful side effects are rare, it is for this reason – and a host of others – that you should discuss at length the entire process with your vet.   Under his or her supervision, and your loving care, your pet can be protected from disease and live a long, healthy life.