To vaccinate or not to vaccinate

• Vaccines are an emotional issue, among pet owners. While the science of pet vaccines is always a work in progress, there are some undeniable facts.
• Animal vaccines help to control disease, many of which can affect people. At the top of the list is rabies.
• Another disease controlled by vaccination is canine parvovirus. The disease emerged in the 1970s, and, for some time, veterinarians were powerless to stop it.
• Whether a vaccine is suggested or not is dependent on the following factors:
1. Age. Kittens and puppies require different vaccines and/or different timing of doses than adult or senior pets.
2. Geography. Different diseases are more prevalent in different locations.
3. Lifestyle. Animals who live in a shelter setting may require different vaccines than those living in a home. Animals living in cities, suburbs or rural areas have different degrees of exposure to different diseases. Animals using groomers, kennels, day care, showing, hunting, etc. have very different risks of contact with infections.
• To lessen the possibility of adverse reactions or side effects, it’s often suggested that all vaccines are NOT given during the same veterinary visit. It is often best to do one injection at a time at least 14 days apart.
• Sometimes choosing whether or not to vaccinate is easy. For rabies, it’s the law. Sometimes, those decisions aren’t black and white.
• A tool to help determine which vaccinations are appropriate for a particular pet is a titer.
• A titer is a laboratory test that measures the presence and amount of antibodies in blood that could defend against a particular disease.
• Titering is not a perfect tool, and titers aren’t available for all vaccinations/diseases.
• Many veterinarians don’t believe titering is an effective way to ensure a pet’s ability to fight off certain diseases—they believe vaccinating the pet is the safest and most effective way to prevent disease.
“At the end of the day, the hope is that pet owners develop a trusting relationship with their veterinarian. Discussing each immunization is serious business, and you should review with your veterinarian what’s right for your individual pet.”