Pet Project: Here’s what’s required for vaccinations
The American Veterinary Medical Association and American Animal Hospital Association have put out core vaccine guidelines for veterinarians to consider and discuss with owners.
Currently, rabies vaccine is the only required vaccine mandated by North Carolina due to potential human health hazard as rabies is incurable once clinical signs develop and is zoonotic (passes to humans).
Problems I find are owners who think their pet is not at risk because they are older or indoor only. There have been numerous cases of bats getting into houses and exposing unvaccinated indoor cats; then the cats must be quarantined for six months to avoid euthanasia.
Other cases have been reported of older patients biting their owners at end of life. Even if not intentional, this is still considered a potential exposure if the pet is not current on rabies vaccination. This creates a lot of turmoil during a difficult time that would be avoided if the rabies vaccination had been current.
For this area, our Core Canine Vaccinations after their initial puppy vaccinations are: Lepto Bacteria given annually, distemper virus, parvovirus, hepatitis, adenovirus every three years after their one-year vaccination, and of course rabies vaccine every three years after their one-year vaccination.
Parvovirus is one of the most deadly viruses in this area that can infect young unvaccinated dogs from 6 weeks to 3 years old on average.
Other vaccinations to highly consider are kennel cough, due to the high contagiousness of being airborne, and Leptosporosis due to it being zoonotic and having many confirmed cases in this area as it spread through the infected urine of wildlife and rodents.
For our feline friends, the American Association of Feline Practitioners has a great website to reference for core vaccines. Currently the recommendations are feline panleukopenia(FPV), feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1) and feline calicivirus(FCV) vaccines. Another vaccine to consider in this area, especially for outdoor cats, is feline leukemia due to the high risk of exposure.
For our sweet puppy and kitten furballs, proper vaccination starting at 6 to 8 weeks of age and boosters every 3 weeks until 16 weeks is necessary for full protection.
Problems I have seen are not enough boosters given for full immunity, boosters given too far apart, or vaccines that are ineffective due to becoming warm before giving them. If vaccines are not kept in a constant cool environment, then it is like injecting water under the skin. I have had some cases of vaccines not being fully effective. But, if given by a veterinarian and documented, the vaccine company compensates owner’s expenses in testing and treatment. However, this is very rare due to the high effectiveness of the vaccines currently used.
Rebekah Julian is a veterinarian at Lazy 5 Vets.