Immunizations are an essential part of your pet’s health care routine. They keep your pets free from diseases and also help protect human members of the family. Even if pets are kept mostly indoors, they could still succumb to contagious airborne infections.

There are times when pets have to be exposed to other animals, for example in grooming salons and boarding centers. Then there are those unexpected times when your pet ‘escapes’ from home or spends time in the garden. All of these situations have some risk of exposure to unwanted viruses. So, immunizations in all pets are of the utmost importance.

Why Immunizations are Important

Immunizations work by helping the body fight against specific diseases. The antigens in the virus cause the body’s immune system to ‘recognize’ the disease and create antibodies against it. If in the future your pet is exposed to that disease, he/she will be able to fight off the infection, or the severity of infection will be much less.

There are two main types of immunizations that are important for most pets. The first type is the core immunization. These are the ones that are considered essential for all pets. For dogs, there is the DHPP shot which protects against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus. In cats, there is the FVRCP shot which protects against Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia. Both dogs and cats require a rabies shot.

Photo by Austin Community College

There are also optional immunization shots which protect against other, less serious diseases. To find out if your pet would benefit from these immunizations, then it is best to speak to someone at your local pet hospital. You local veterinary technician will also advise on the proper immunizations for puppies and kittens.

What about the risks?

Some pet owners are concerned about risks associated with vaccinations. When compared to the risks of catching a contagious disease, any side effects of immunizations are minimal. Most pets have no or only minor symptoms and these usually pass very quickly. If you have any concerns, then your local veterinary clinic will be able to put your mind at rest.

Proper immunization of your pets will ensure that they live a happy and disease free life. You will also have the peace of mind that you have protected your family from any diseases that can be passed on from pet to human. Remember that prevention is always better than cure. Make sure to have your pets immunized.