An important part of the SAGE Compassion for Animals mission is education to help reduce future illness in the companion animals that we grant funding.  As part of the grant acceptance policy, we will require that a pet is up to date on vaccines or vaccinated at the time of the treatment if appropriate.

Vaccines are used to induce an acquired immune response to a disease agent beyond what might be present as a part of the innate immune response. The efficacy and duration of immunity (DOI) of an individual vaccine is highly dependent upon the type of vaccine (e.g., modified live, killed, recombinant/vectored), the individual patient’s health, age, genetics, and exposure history. While vaccine safety is tested by vaccine companies prior to licensing for general use, individual instances of adverse reactions can and do occur. This is generally a small percentage of the vaccinated population, and the benefits of vaccination have been shown to far outweigh the risks.

5 reasons to vaccinate your pet – the top 2 reasons are really enough, but we will give you 5!

  • Vaccinations prevent many pet illnesses. Pets are at risk of contracting common deadly diseases such as distemper, parvo, and panleukopenia.  Vaccines provide immunity against one or several diseases that can lessen the severity or prevent certain diseases altogether.  Pet vaccination saves pet lives by helping to achieve herd immunity and stopping the spread of disease and essentially can help end preventable euthanasia!
  • Vaccinations can help avoid costly treatments for diseases that can be prevented.  Vaccinating your pet helps prevent heartache and saves money!  You can receive free or low-cost, preventative vaccines: treating parvo or distemper can be unaffordable or untreatable by costing thousands of dollars with an unsure outcome.  If you get your pet vaccinated at a low-cost clinic or pet store, it is still very important to establish a relationship with a veterinarian for yearly visits.  Having a veterinarian that knows you and your pet is so important for life-long health and happiness – not to  mention, saves you money with staying on top of preventative medicine and avoiding costly emergency clinic visits.
  • Vaccinations prevent diseases that can be passed between animals and also from animals to people.
  • Diseases prevalent in wildlife, such as rabies and distemper, can infect unvaccinated pets. Experts agree that widespread use of vaccinations within the last century has prevented death and disease in millions of animals.
  • In many areas, local or state ordinances require certain vaccinations of household pets.

Any type of medical treatment including vaccination has associated risks, but the risk should be weighed against the benefits of protecting your pet, your family and your community from potentially fatal diseases. The majority of pets respond well to vaccines.  The most common adverse responses to vaccination are mild and short-term. Serious reactions are rare. An uncommon but serious adverse reaction that can occur in cats is tumor growth (sarcomas), which can develop weeks, months, or even years after a vaccination. Improvements in vaccination technology and technique have greatly reduced the occurrence of sarcomas.  Always inform your veterinarian if your pet has had prior reactions to any vaccine or medication. If in doubt, wait for 30-60 minutes following vaccination before taking your pet home.

It is important to follow the recommendations from your veterinarian about the timing and frequency in your pet’s first vaccinations.  Very young animals are highly susceptible to infectious disease because their immune system is not yet fully mature. They receive protection through antibodies in their mother’s milk, but the protection is not long-lasting and there may be gaps in protection as the milk antibodies decrease and their immune system is still maturing. Maternal antibodies can also interfere with a puppy’s or kitten’s vaccine response, so a series of vaccines is typically recommended to ensure that the puppy or kitten receives a vaccine as early as possible after maternal antibodies subside. An incomplete series of vaccinations may lead to incomplete protection, making puppies and kittens vulnerable to infection. 

Talk with your veterinarian about your pet’s lifestyle, including any expected travel to other geographical locations and/or contact with other pets or wild animals, since these factors impact your pet’s risk of exposure to certain diseases and might impact the type of vaccines recommended.  Many factors are taken into consideration when establishing a pet’s vaccination plan.  Your veterinarian will tailor a program of vaccinations and preventive health care that will help your pet maintain a lifetime of infectious disease protection.