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Why are pet vaccinations important?

Vaccinations are essential to keep your pet healthy and safe from life-threatening diseases. They prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases such as rabies and leptospirosis from pets to humans and play a vital role in keeping a check on the spread of infectious diseases such as rabies, parvovirus, canine distemper, bordetella, feline leukaemia, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and others among the pet population.

Prevention is the best cure; vaccinating young pets can help you save considerable money and distress in treating infectious and life-threatening diseases later.

How do vaccines work?

Pet vaccines are similar to human vaccines. Simply put, they contain antigens that are identical or less virulent versions of the disease-causing microorganism. These antigens will not cause the disease in your pet but will trigger an immune response which will protect your pet from the actual disease. When your pet is exposed to the microorganism after vaccination, its immune system recognises the disease and fights it off. Your pet will be able to release disease-fighting antibodies faster and more effectively if they are vaccinated.

Core and non-core vaccines: What’s the difference?

Vaccines are classified as core and non-core depending on what it protects the pet against. However, vaccines that fall under core and non-core change according to the region that pet lives in and the pet’s lifestyle. Core vaccines are extremely vital; they protect your pet against severe diseases that are life threatening such as canine distemper and parvovirus, and against diseases that can be transmitted to humans such as rabies. Non-core vaccines are not essential but will be recommended by your vet depending on where you live.

Core vaccines for dogs are the DHLPP and the rabies vaccines. DHLPP (or in some regions DHPP) protect your dog against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. Vaccinations against diseases such as Bordetella, coronavirus, Lyme disease, and canine influenza are non-core vaccines for dogs.

Core vaccines for cats are the FVRCP and rabies vaccines. FVRCP is a combination vaccine that protects your cat against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia. Non-core vaccines for cats are chlamydia, feline leukaemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, Bordetella, and feline infectious peritonitis.

While some vaccines provide your pet with lifelong protection against diseases, other vaccines such as rabies, need to be given in multiple doses over a period to build immunity. These booster shots are as essential as the initial dose, and as a pet parent, it is your responsibility to ensure timely follow-up doses.

Risks and benefits of vaccinations

Many pet parents choose not to vaccinate their pets because of the risk of vaccine-related complications. However, studies show the benefits far outweigh the risks and vaccinations protect your pet against dangerous diseases that can be fatal. The most common side effect reported from general pet vaccines is a mild allergic reaction, which can easily be managed with help from the vet. Common allergic reactions include vomiting or diarrhoea a few hours after administration of the vaccine. Depending on the extent of the reaction, your vet will treat it with an antihistamine or cortisone. Severe allergic reactions are treated with epinephrine or even IV fluid therapy. Your vet will probably keep your pet at the clinic for some time to monitor his or her health.

Vaccinations during travel

General vaccinations are mandatory for dogs and cats travelling abroad, and an updated vaccination record is one of the primary requirements for international pet travel. Various destination countries mandate additional vaccines that your pet must be immunised against before departure. For any questions regarding vaccinations for international travel, contact our team of experts at Petraveller.