Why is it important for my puppy and kitten to get vaccinations?

There are many diseases that can be contracted by puppies and kittens; we can prevent these diseases by giving vaccines to your pet. Most of our vaccines prevent viral infections, for which there is no effective treatment. If your pet contracts one of these viruses, they will get very sick and potentially die of complications caused by the disease. Proper vaccination will prevent your pet from getting sick because it prepares their immune system to fight off the infection as soon as he or she gets exposed.

When should I have my pet vaccinated, and how often?

Puppies and kittens inherit some immunity from their mothers, called maternal antibodies. These antibodies are thought to be present for the first couple months of life, but vary by individual. As these antibodies decline, the puppy or kitten becomes susceptible to infection. This is why we generally recommend starting immunizations around 6 – 8 weeks of age. If the maternal antibodies have not worn off sufficiently by the time of the first vaccine, the maternal antibodies will treat the vaccine as an infection and render it ineffective. This is why we repeat the vaccine every 3-4 weeks until the maternal antibodies have worn off, which generally occurs around 12 weeks of age. When a vaccine is effective it produces antibodies. The first time the immune system is introduced to an antigen, it creates short acting antibodies. If the immune system is reintroduced to that same antigen later, it will produce long acting antibodies that will protect your pet for a prolonged period of time (this varies with individuals and lifestyle). We are sure that most vaccines will create protective antibodies for at least a year, which is why we recommend that your pet receives a booster on an annual basis.

Are pet vaccines safe, and are there side effects?

Overall, vaccines are very safe and save pets’ lives from many horrible, deadly diseases for which there is no treatment. For a vaccine to work properly, it must stimulate the immune system. This is inherently an inflammatory process. As such, it is expected for your pet to have some localized tenderness or swelling at the site of the injection. Usually this goes unnoticed as your pet will generally eat, drink and have normal activity after getting vaccinated. Unfortunately, in rare cases an allergic reaction may occur. The immune system “over reacts” to any component in the vaccine which could result in vomiting, hives, facial swelling and even sudden death. If you notice any of these signs, immediately notify your veterinarian and seek treatment.

Are Hillside Animal Hospital’s vaccine recommendations for Scottsdale and Fountain Hills pets different from other parts of the country?

At Hillside, we recommend that all dogs and cats receive what is known as “core” vaccines. These are the vaccines that the American Veterinary Medical Association considers essential for every dog and cat. This includes distemper, parvo, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and rabies for dogs; Feline rhinotracheitis, calici, panleukopenia and rabies for cats. Other vaccines are considered “non-core” and may be recommended based on you and your pet’s lifestyle and travel history.

Do you recommend that my indoor cat get vaccinated?

It is recommended that all cats receive the core vaccines as stated above. Even though your cat never goes outside, it is possible for your cat to get sick from viruses that may be tracked in on shoes and clothing.

Why is it important for my pet to be examined by the veterinarian before getting vaccinated?

Examination prior to vaccination is important to ensure that your pet is healthy enough to receive the vaccine. If your pet is sick at the time of vaccine, it may not develop proper immunity. Furthermore, certain conditions could potentially be worsened by vaccinating. We will always make recommendations based on the best interest of your dog or cat. Sometimes that means postponing immunization for another time.

I’ve heard about kennel cough.  How to I protect my dog?

Respiratory disease is easily transmitted through the air or by direct contact. When your pet is staying at a boarding facility, participating in daycare or even going to the groomer or dog park, they are more susceptible. A vaccine can be given to help protect your pet. This vaccine is given intra-nasally initially, followed by a subcutaneous injection 3-4 weeks later. After the second booster vaccine, it is updated 6 months later followed by every year after that.

What is the rattlesnake vaccine, and when is it recommended?

The Rattlesnake vaccine works by stimulating your pet’s immunity to protect your pet against rattlesnake venom. When living, exercising or traveling near places where rattlesnakes are found, it is in the best interest of your pet to give them the vaccine which is updated every 6 months. Following a suspected or confirmed snake bite, your pet should always be taken to a veterinarian to be evaluated. It will then be determined if your pet needs additional treatment.

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