Frequently Asked Questions about Pet Vaccines at Our North Hollywood Veterinary Clinic
Here at our North Hollywood veterinary clinic, Berkeley Pet Hospital, we commonly urge pet owners to get their pets vaccinated. If you have received such instructions, you may find yourself wondering what this process involves and why we emphasize it so strongly. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about pet vaccines and vaccination practices.
What Is a Vaccine?
A vaccine is a substance that essentially masquerades as a dangerous germ without causing infection like the actual germ would. Many vaccines are made from inactivated versions of the disease organism. When your pet receives a vaccine, his immune system reacts as if the actual germ had infiltrated it. The immune system then produces antibodies designed to fight that particular germ.
Why Do Vaccines Play Such a Critical Role in Pet Health?
Animals can manufacture disease antibodies on their own, but only after first encountering the germ that causes that disease. Normally, this means that the animal has to get sick from the disease first before fighting it off and developing immunity. However, some diseases pose such serious threats that they can actually kill on the first exposure. Vaccines step in to create advanced immunity.
What Are Core Vaccinations?
The term "core" refers to vaccinations that every pet should receive, regardless of their environment or other considerations. For instance, dogs and cats both need rabies and distemper vaccinations. Dogs also require vaccinations against hepatitis and parvo and cats require vaccinations against calicivirus and HFV-1.
What Are Elective Vaccinations?
Elective or "non-core" vaccinations protect pets against diseases that may prove less universally threatening, but which might be commonplace in specific situations. For example, pets who enter a boarding facility may spread infections such as Bordetella or feline leukemia. We may advise you to schedule elective vaccinations based on your pet's environment and lifestyle.
When Should My Pet Receive Vaccinations?
Most pets should start receiving core vaccinations when they reach the age of around 6 weeks. Your pet may need several rounds of vaccinations, in different combinations, throughout his first several months of life. Within 1 to 3 years, each of these vaccinations may need reinforcement in the form of booster shots.
Can Vaccinations Harm My Pet?
Some pets experience mild discomfort or malaise following a vaccination, while others might have allergic reactions that call for veterinary evaluation. Generally, however, pets are far safer with vaccinations than without them.