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Why Vaccinate Your Pets?

Catherine Forman

To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate? Lately, this seems to be a popular debate. After all, most of us were vaccinated as children, and occasionally get boosters for things like tetanus. Should our pets get the same sort of childhood treatments?


The Case For Vaccination

Perhaps the strongest case for vaccination is tradition. It has worked so well for the past few decades! The late 1970s saw an epidemic of parvo virus that killed thousands of dogs; only a nationwide administration of the vaccine stopped it.

Think of the alternatives: would you like to see your unvaccinated pet suffer through rabies or the parvo virus? Annual vaccinations have been very effective in fighting diseases that used to be common, like hepatitis, canine distemper, parvo, and feline leukemia. These diseases (and others) are real and could be common without the preventative measures of vaccination.

The Case Against Vaccination

Some veterinarians and pet owners believe that vaccinations are an unnecessary evil. The side effects can be much worse than the problems they should prevent: allergies, seizures, anemia, even tumors and cancer. Some say that we are overwhelming our pets' immune systems instead of helping them develop immunities.

The United States Department of Agriculture and drug manufacturers recommend annual vaccines, but there is no real scientific evidence that says the vaccines have to be administered every year. Some researchers believe that yearly vaccines go against the natural order of a pet's body, and lead to serious auto-immune diseases.

The Case Between The Two

Not sure if a yearly vaccination series is right for your pets? You can ask your veterinarian about annual titers, tests that check the level of antibodies in the blood. If there are enough antibodies, a booster shot may not be necessary.

There are certain core vaccines that probably should be given to all dogs: rabies, distemper, and parvo virus. Other vaccines, like those for Lyme disease or bordetella (kennel cough), may be useful if your dog has a chance of being exposed to the diseases. However, a dog that never sets foot in a kennel probably won't need a bordetella vaccination. Pets that live in an area where Lyme disease is not prevalent may be able to skip that shot.


Talk to your vet about your concerns, and vaccination options for your pets to have the best possible health.

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May 25, 20060 found this helpful

I know our vet would ask if our cats were up to date on shots, including rabies before they were allowed to be boarded there! You are not just protecting your pets but others pets as well who might come in contact with yours!

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April 24, 20150 found this helpful

Some vaccinations for cats cause a cancer at the injection site that is caused by the vaccination. Be and informed pet owner and know what injections are necessary, and how often they are really necessary.

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