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A simple guide for planning your pet’s vaccination [Checklist]

An important part of being a responsible pet owner is to have your dog or cat vaccinated against preventable diseases. Vaccination is one of the most commonly performed procedures in small animal veterinary practice, and with good reason. Vaccination for pets not only assists to protect them from potentially life-threatening diseases by boosting their immunity, but also could save you from high treatment costs and the heartache of seeing your pet suffer. Keeping your pet’s vaccinations up to date is an essential step for them to remain happy and healthy. The best way to ensure this, is to book at least one yearly appointment with your veterinarian for a physical health check and to discuss your pet’s vaccination needs.

So how do pet vaccinations work and are there any risks? A vaccine is usually administered via an injection (or in some cases, a nasal spray or oral vaccine) and contains an agent similar to the virus or bacteria that causes the infectious disease. The vaccine stimulates your pet’s immune system, allowing their body to recognise this foreign agent as a threat and to attack and ‘remember’ the agent. This prepares them to fight off disease if they encounter the infectious agent through the environment or contact with other animals.

Side effects may occasionally occur within a few hours following vaccination, but these are usually minor and should resolve within one to two days. If you notice any side effects following vaccination, such as allergic reactions, sensitivity, fever, diarrhoea or vomiting or depression/inappetence, seek your veterinarian’s advice. It’s important to remember that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh any potential adverse reactions, which are of low incidence.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has used extensive scientific evidence to develop guidelines for the vaccination of dogs and cats. They have classified vaccines as:

  • 'core' vaccines, which every dog and cat must receive to prevent severe, life-threatening illnesses that occur throughout the world; and
  • 'non-core' vaccines, which should be administered based on an individual animal’s geographical location, local environment and lifestyle. The immunity from non-core vaccines usually lasts for 12 months or less, so they must be administered annually.

Vaccination is important

Vaccination is a crucial part of preventative health care for your dog or cat. Your veterinarian can develop a vaccination protocol that meets the unique needs of your pet. Vaccinations may not be covered on standard pet insurance policies, however it may be possible to add optional cover for routine care such as vaccinations, so check your policy to see if you have coverage to help with the cost of preventative health care.

Just like pet insurance can help with the cost of expensive vet bills, vaccinating your pet could also save you thousands of dollars and reduce the emotional stress of having to treat your pet from a preventable disease. More importantly, it’s one of the best things you can do to keep your pet healthy and increase their chances of living a long life.

Download A simple guide for planning your pet’s vaccination [Checklist]