Why you should vaccinate your pet.
1. High chance of exposure.
2. The disease has no treatment. (eg. Rabies)
3. By the time the disease manifests itself it’s too late to treat or the success of the treatment is significantly reduced. (Leptospirosis, Distemper, Canine Parvo, Lyme Disease in Dogs and FIP, Leukemia, FIV, Panleukopenia in Cats.)
4. Control of easily spread diseases in a particular population of animals. (Bordetella, Canine Influenza)
5. The treatment is more dangerous or problematic than the vaccine. (Rabies exposure treatment)
6. Economy – an acceptable treatment exists but it is much more expensive than vaccination. (Animal shelters, breeders, and kennels stuck treating dozens or hundreds of dogs or cats.)
7. Don’t forget: “I don’t want my pet to be sick!”
Why you shouldn’t vaccinate.
1. Very low chance or no chance of exposure. (Lyme disease for a dog not exposed to ticks, Bordetella, and Canine Influenza for pets that never leave the property.)
2. Known, serious reaction to a particular vaccine component. (Anaphylactic shock, autoimmune disease triggers)
3. The vaccine provides inadequate protection. (Protozoal and fungal vaccines are notoriously poor, also FIP for Cats)
4. Pet has developed lifelong immunity. (Survived Canine Distemper or Parvo Virus infection. Cat over 3 years old develops resistance to FIP, Feline Leukemia virus.)
Your veterinarian considers these factors before setting general vaccine policy for his or her practice area.
What are the exposure levels in your area?
Those for every area in the U.S. are called “core vaccines” and are recommended for all dogs and cats.
Dog: Canine Distemper, Canine Parvovirus, Adenovirus II, +/- Parainfluenza and Rabies (DAP or DAPP + Rabies)
Cat: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Feline Panleukopenia and Rabies (FVRCP and Rabies)
Other geographical exposures in Orange County California are:
Leptospirosis- exposure to rodents, livestock, marshes and ponds. (This means you Orange Park Acres!)
Lyme- hiking, hunting, camping, where pets will get ticks- vaccinate plus tick control. There are lots of good tick control products and there are several species of ticks carrying diseases for which there are no vaccines!
Rattlesnake vaccine- reduces the severity of bites. Walking your dog in the hills is a risk factor (plus having a lot of rodents in your garden and bird feeder.)
Lifestyle: Bordetella and Canine Influenza – regular boarding, grooming, dog park visits, doggie day care, and dog shows are an increased risk.
What is too little and too much vaccine?
No core vaccination given.
Not getting vaccines boosted in time. Almost all vaccines require at least one boost in 2 to 4 weeks. Exceptions are Rabies and intranasal Bordetella vaccine.
More than 4 puppy or kitten vaccines for DAPP or FVRCP
Boosting 3 year vaccines yearly (Rabies, DAPP, FVRCP) after the yearly boost at 12 to 16 months old.
Giving FeLV (leukemia, after 4 years of age) to a cat (unless it lives with FeLV carrier or outdoors)
Vaccinating pets known to have serious reactions to them. (Pain and swelling at the injection site or”hives” are not considered serious and can be handled with pre-medication)
Every vaccine given on the same day- spread them out over two week intervals until the total number of needed boosts are completed.
2017 guidelines will be released in July. Here is a small sample of what it will say (there are 13 pages of them!):
1. Some dogs and cats in high exposure areas need a 4th FVRCP or DAPP at 18 to 20 weeks old.
2. Vaccines that need a boost must be given the second immunization within 6 weeks or an additional boost (also within 6 weeks) must begin to be effective.
3. Small breed dogs (less than 20lbs) should not get any non-core vaccines until after the core vaccines are finished.
4. The only way to identify non responders to vaccination is to get an antibody titer test run at least 2 weeks following vaccination.
There is even more to know about your specific pet, so you’ll want to ask the vet or veterinary technician about what they think is the best choice for you and your pet.
William Wiatt D.V.M.