Vaccinating your pet should not be taken lightly. Failure to vaccinate could result in your pet contracting a serious preventable disease. However, unnecessary vaccinations should be avoided. A decision to vaccinate should only come after your pets age and the risk of exposure to disease are considered by you and your veterinarian. Vaccinations given at the appropriate age and at the appropriate intervals will greatly benefit your pet and protect it against some life threatening diseases. Recent studies have shown that annual re-vaccination may not be necessary for some diseases because many pets are protected for three years or longer when vaccinated (depending on the vaccination).
Most vaccinations are given under the skin but some such as the new kennel cough vaccination are given orally (by mouth).
While vaccines reactions are rare they can and do happen. The most common reaction is mild lethargy and poor appetite for the first 24 hours following vaccination. Sometimes local inflammatory reactions and pain can occur but typical dissipate after a few days. On very rare occasion a vaccine can induce an anaphylactic (allergic) reaction that could be life threatening. These rare reactions typical occur within the first 30 minutes of vaccination. Cats can have a unique but very rare vaccine reaction that results in tumor formation (called a fibrosarcoma) at the injection site.
Vaccination recommendations for Cats and Dogs:
In the 1990’s a lot of research was done at CSU and some other veterinary schools to find a vaccination schedule for cats and dogs that protect them from disease, but does minimize vaccinations as much as possible. Still there is a lot of confusion regarding the appropriate time as to when to vaccinate animals. Unfortunately we still sometimes see 8 week old puppies or kittens that come in for their first physical exam, that have been already vaccinated two to three times by the owner or breeder. This is not necessary, and actually may be harmful. Queens (that would be a female cat) and bitches (this would be a female dog and not a pejorative) should be vaccinated before being bred (becoming pregnant) so that the protection from the vaccinations can be passed on to the puppies and kittens through the clostrum. Clostrum is the milk that queens and bitches produce for the first 24 to maybe 48 hours after they have their puppies and or kittens. Pregnant cats and dogs should not be vaccinated, as this may be harmful to the fetuses.