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National Immunization Month

As the end of August nears, so does National Immunization Month. Just like humans, it is important to keep on top of pet’s vaccinations and immunizations. If not given the proper care, pets are at a much higher risk of contracting a variety of health issues and problems later in life. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) began National Immunization Awareness Month originally to help remind doctors of the importance of discussing and educating people on the risks and benefit of immunizations. However, the veterinary community has also taken the opportunity to help pet parents understand these same issues in pets. 

There has been much discussion on both sides of the immunizations debate, some people believe they’re good, some believe they’re nonsense. But no matter who believes what, it’s a fact that many contagious diseases that pets can contract are airborne, so all it would take would be a walk in the park or an open window for a pet to be in danger. Pets, especially outdoor cats, are prone to spending a lot of time outside, while other pets can occasionally escape out a front door. Other areas including boarding kennels, doggy day cares, dog parks, vets offices and grooming salons are risky areas where airborne diseases can be widespread.

The way that vaccinations work is that they contain antigens, which are made to look like the disease so that a pet’s body can learn how to fight them off. Although the immunization looks exactly like the disease, it’s important to keep in mind that they will not actually infect a pet with the disease they have been vaccinated with. Instead, if a pet ever comes into contact with the disease, the vaccination will kick in and help the pet’s system fight it off. As of right now, the only immunization that needs to be given and is required by law is the rabies shot. But another essential immunization given to both dogs and cats is the distemper shot. In dogs, this immunization protects from Distemper, Hepatitis, Para influenza, and Parvovirus. In cats, the shot protects against Viral Rhinotracheitis, Callcivirus, and Panleukopenia.      

With all the information and different viewpoints out there, it is hard for pet parents to decide how to move forward. But the best thing they can do if they have questions is to go to their vet. They will best understand the risks associated in the pet’s area, the immunizations the pet will need and be able to answer any other questions pet parents may have. So celebrate National Immunization Awareness Month by taking a trip to the vet and making sure all pets in the home are healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations!