The advent of vaccines represents one of the cornerstones of modern medicine. There is no question that vaccines control diseases which produce significant morbidity and mortality in our pets and livestock. We now enjoy relatively low incidence of diseases which were once common place, and as such, it is easy to become complacent about many conditions. Unfortunately, as vets we are quickly reminded of the importance of vaccinating our pets when we helplessly watch patients die from conditions that are so easily prevented.
In general, the diseases we vaccinate against can be classified as fatal diseases or those that cause morbidity or illness. Common fatal conditions that we vaccinate against include Parvovirus in dogs, Panleukopaenia, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Feline Leukaemia Virus in cats, Tetanus in horses and numerous clostridial diseases in ruminants. In dogs we also vaccinate against Distemper and Infectious Hepatitis which, thanks to widespread vaccination protocols, are far less prevalent these days. Diseases which produce morbidity are rarely fatal but can cause severe or prolonged illness. These include Canine Cough, Cat Flu and Strangles in horses.
At this stage, most vaccinations are recommended annually. This also provides us an opportunity to give your pet a general health check and for you to raise any concerns that you may have about your pet’s health.
A new area of research is evolving which is investigating the possibility of changing the frequency of vaccinations. As the incidence of these diseases reduces and more knowledge is obtained about the interaction between the vaccinations and the immune system and their duration of action, we expect our vaccination protocols to change accordingly. This will be based on scientific and statistical evidence.
In the meantime, to protect your pets from life threatening illness, we continue to recommend annual vaccination with our health checks with the only acceptable alternative being to test antibody levels in place of vaccinations to ensure your pet is safe from these diseases.
Remember, prevention is always better than cure and this adage couldn’t be more appropriate when considering vaccination. Many of us wouldn’t hesitate in vaccinating our children as a safeguard against potentially life threatening illnesses. Why risk the life of your beloved four-legged friend?
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your pet’s health and their vaccination, please do not hesitate to contact us on 3202 7300.