16 November 2018
16 November 2018,

The importance of vaccinating your fur children!


The annual check-up is part of the routine of owning an animal companion. Because our pets age much faster than us humans, it’s a good idea for them to be examined frequently to prevent problems before they become life-threatening.


Except for a general clinical examination, the annual check-up is also the best time for your pet to be vaccinated. Your pet was protected by their mother during the first few weeks of their existence, since she provided immunity in the form of milk. After nine weeks, this immunity diminishes and it’s up to you and your veterinarian to provide your furry friend with protection.


What do vaccines do?


Vaccines contain small amounts of the disease-causing organism. When administered, they stimulate your pet’s immune system to produce antibodies which protects them against the disease. Your veterinarian will therefore vaccinate your pet against the most common diseases. Your pet will also receive a rabies shot and cats will be vaccinated against feline leukaemia.



How frequently should we vaccinate our fur kids?


According to SAVA, historically, annual vaccination had been recommended. There were two reasons for this. The most important was that vaccine manufacturers had proof that the core vaccines provided immunity for at least a year.

The second reason used to justify annual vaccination was that pets benefit from an annual health check – usually given at the time of vaccination. This check facilitates the early detection of heart disease, renal disease and tumours, and is an ideal opportunity to remind owners about parasite control, discuss management of skin disease and neutering.

There are challenge studies showing that some canine and feline core vaccines can protect the majority of vaccinated animals for 3 years. The effectiveness of vaccines is likely to differ between manufacturers.


Are there any risks?


The majority of pets experience no adverse effects following vaccination. A small number of animals may become feverish and have a reduced appetite. These reactions are mild and of short duration. In extremely rare cases, an animal may experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction. Such an animal can be treated successfully if attended to immediately. The possibility of such an event occurring does not justify considering not to vaccinate your pets, however, as that will leave them susceptible to a range of life-threatening infectious diseases.



Vaccination is your pet’s best bet against disease and it is also more cost-effective than the treatment of serious illnesses. If your pet hasn’t seen the inside of a consulting room this year: don’t wait! Vaccinate!


Author: Carissa Engelbrecht and Andrea Wilkins


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