staff_1Vaccines and Vaccinations

HEALTHY PETS need conscientious caregivers to provide for their needs. Together, owner and veterinarian, can develop a wellness plan suited to each pets’ specific needs based on factors such as age, lifestyle and current state of health. As with ourselves, each pet is an individual…what is appropriate for one pet is not necessarily so for another. Many of the diseases we are protecting our pets against are common, untreatable and fatal.

INFECTIOUS DISEASES can occur in pets when they come into contact with harmful viruses or bacteria. These diseases make your pet feel unwell and many of them are fatal! Depending on the organism involved they can be spread by direct pet to pet contact, via objects contaminated with the organism (fomites), via ingestion of contaminated substances or via airborne dissemination.

PREVENTION for many diseases can be provided through a good vaccination program. When a healthy pet is exposed to a safely modified virus or bacteria the immune system responds by producing protective antibodies. These antibodies circulate in the blood for a finite, although often undetermined, period of time protecting the pet against invasion of the wild, virulent form of that organism.

CONTINUED PROTECTION requires repeat vaccinations as the protective response period does not last indefinitely. The timing and frequency of repeat (booster) vaccinations varies with the age of the pet, the organism and the individuals’ own response to the vaccination given and the characteristics of the vaccine itself. In many instances the level of a specific antibody present in the blood at any one time can be determined by performing an antibody titer test. However, there is considerable controversy about whether the measurable antibody titre level truly reflects the actual level of protection against disease challenge. Until this issue is fully resolved it is up to each veterinarian and caregiver to determine how much faith to put into antibody titre levels as a measure of disease protection. There is a definite need for more research to be done in this field.

VACCINE REACTIONS must be considered when embarking upon any vaccination program. As in humans, animals may feel sluggish, feverish and have less appetite for a short period of time after vaccination. Many seem to have no adverse reaction at all. Others may exhibit more severe reactions varying from soreness and/or swelling at an injection site, snuffling and/or sneezing after an intra nasal inoculation, vomiting and/or diarrhea, itchiness and/or swelling of ears and face to full development of anaphylaxis, and if no medical intervention is provided, even death.

In cats there is concern over the increase in incidence of injection site fibrosarcoma. Although some of these potential reactions are very severe, even fatal, they are also very rare. At SCVC we have begun to use the newest vaccine technology that decreases or may in fact eliminate vaccine reactions in cats.