Why We Immunize Our Pets


Why We Immunize Our Pets

Vaccines are one of the most important components of wellness and preventative care for both pets and people. Despite rumors that circulate about the “dangers” of vaccines, vaccinations are actually quite safe and incredibly effective at preventing both pets and people from falling victim to extremely dangerous diseases.

Top 5 Reasons Why We Vaccinate Our Pets

1. Vaccination Protects Pets From Dangerous Diseases

Vaccines are designed to protect pets from contracting highly dangerous and contagious diseases, such as rabies, distemper, feline leukemia, and more. Many of the diseases from which vaccines protect pets are difficult to treat and are often fatal.

2. Vaccinating Animals Saves Human Lives, Too

Many of the diseases that pet vaccines prevent are also zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from pets to people. Vaccinating your pets also protects your human family members.
For example, according to the [World Health Organization] , rabies is responsible for the deaths of about 59,000 people worldwide each year. Thanks to robust vaccine efforts that are backed by local laws, the United States rarely experiences rabies-related deaths as a result of unvaccinated domestic animals. Ninety-five percent of rabies-related deaths occur in Africa and Asia, and dogs are largely responsible for the spread to people in these places.

3. Vaccines Are Safe and Effective

Extreme reactions to vaccination are rare, and the risks associated with vaccinating pets are so minimal that the health benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks

4. Prevention Is Always Less Expensive Than Treatment

As a general rule, preventative care is always less expensive than the cost of treating a disease that could have been avoided. Plus, in many cases, curative treatments aren’t even available for diseases that can be prevented with vaccines.

5. Preventative Care Saves Pets Pain and Suffering

No one wants to see their cat or dog suffering from an illness – especially one that could have been easily prevented with a simple schedule of vaccinations.

Schedule Your Pet's Annual Wellness and Preventative Care Appointment in Pensacola

At Olive Branch Pet Hospital in Pensacola, we provide pets with comprehensive wellness and preventative care with a variety of cost-saving wellness plans available, too. Our veterinarians will recommend a schedule of core (required/recommended for all pets) and non-core (recommended on a case-by-case basis) vaccines based on your pet’s individual lifestyle and exposure level to ensure your cat or dog stays safe and healthy.

Standard of Care

Standard of Care

Most people visit their physicians at least once yearly for routine checkups. These visits usually include an exam by the doctor and bloodwork that screens for hidden problems. Yearly bloodwork aids the physician in identifying potential problems the patient may have, but unable to see on physical exam. It has always been more beneficial to treat problems early in the disease course as opposed to the advanced disease state. The outcome for the patient as well as their quality life is more favorable with early intervention.
Veterinarians have always practiced preventative medicine with vaccines, heartworm and flea/tick medications etc. Overall as a profession however, we have been reluctant, largely due to cost, to recommend routine bloodwork as part of preventative care until the patient presents with a problem. Throughout the country, experts are recommending screening bloodwork as part of a pets annual or semi-annual checkups. Pets who visit their veterinarian once yearly equate to a human visiting their physician once every 7 years. As you can imagine, alot can happen health wise to a person in 7 years, especially as we age. Anticipating an increase volume of bloodwork due to this changing philosophy, veterinary labs are making these tests more affordable for the veterinarian to recommend to pet owners.
For instance, 1 in 6 patients under 6 years of age and 1 in 5 over the age of 6 have a significant health issue diagnosable on screening bloodwork. In my experience, outcome is always more favorable and less expensive when the disease is diagnosed and treated early in its course. Several times monthly, I diagnose early kidney failure in a patient on routine screening tests. The importance of this particular test is that the patient can live 600 days with early intervention as opposed to 180 days if diagnosed later in the disease course. Therefore, in order to improve our standard of care for our patients, we will be recommending screening bloodwork at annual and semi-annual visits.
As always, if anyone has any questions related to the monthly health columns, please feel free to call the office.



“To vaccinate or not to vaccinate… That is the question!”

Recently, there has been much debate, fueled primarily by the media, regarding yearly vaccinations of pets. The media, as well as other non-veterinary groups, are asserting that veterinarians are over vaccinating pets in this country. This month’s article will look at this important issue and try to shed some light on this controversial subject.
It is uncertain why or when the veterinary experts at the time decided that yearly vaccinations were the best protocol. Maybe, 50 years ago when supposingly this began, veterinarians extrapolated from human vaccine protocols and continue their recommendations today. I recently attended a large vaccination symposium discussing these issues to determine are vaccinations necessary and do they pose a health hazard to the pet or human.
Major points of the meeting looked at current human protocols compared to veterinary medicine and detrimental health issues to pets and humans as a result of vaccinating or not vaccinating yearly.
I do not have any children, so I have no concept of what vaccines babies/kid/teenagers receive. Experts at the symposium presented a slide from the American Board of Pediatrics regarding their current vaccination protocol for babies in their first year or so of life. It was amazing! According to the protocol, vaccines are given every week for several months. This differs from veterinary medicine in that vaccines are started at 8 weeks of age and done every 3 weeks until 16 weeks of age, then recommended yearly. The program expert calculated a several fold increase in the number of diseases babies are vaccinated against in the first year compared to dogs/cats. Many diseases in children have not been seen in decades, but why do kids still receive vaccines for them? The answer to the question is with a question… would you rather your child get a potential deadly disease or would you rather have them vaccinated prophylacticaly? Most pediatricians have never seen some of the diseases they vaccinate for and would never see them unless visiting a third world country. The same holds true for our pet friends, except, I personally have seen all the diseases I vaccinate yearly for in the past 8 years. Some of these diseases I see every month such as Aids, Leukemia, Hepatitis. Recent research has shown that adverse effects attributed to vaccines themselves cannot be substantiated. Some people ask me to run a blood test on their pet instead of vaccinating to determine if their vaccine level is high enough to protect against disease. If every pet were exactly the same with the exact same immune status, blood tests may be useful. In other words, a flu shot may protect me, but not you since our bodies require different amounts of vaccine for protection.
Current recommendations by immunologists, veterinary colleges and vaccine researchers is to continue with yearly vaccines for Rabies/Distemper and twice yearly for Bordetella in dogs and once yearly vaccines in cats. I guess the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may apply to disease prevention and vaccine protocols.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns regarding this month’s health article, please feel free to call the office.