Risk of Over Vaccinating
Pet vaccines help save the lives of hundreds of thousands of animals each year. Just like those used to immunize humans, pet vaccines work by triggering the production of antibodies to particular pathogens which in turn provide protection if and when being exposed to the actual disease. Due to the widespread vaccination of pets against some of the most dangerous bacteria, viruses and fungi, many once very common and often fatal diseases have now all but disappeared. According to recent reports, however, many conditions are no longer as rare as they used to be just a decade ago. This is due to several reasons including the so-called over vaccination controversy which has led to a growing number of pet owners choosing not to vaccinate their dogs and cats.
Pet Vaccines Not Completely Harmless
The benefits of pet vaccines by far outweigh the risks. They provide protection against very serious and potentially fatal infections and conditions. And besides protecting dogs and cats, pet vaccines are also protecting their owners and help improve public health because some diseases such as rabies are not only a major health concern for animals but for people too.
Side effects are not impossible but first of all, they are very rare and second, they are usually mild – diarrhea, loss of appetite, swelling at the site of injection and fever. Unfortunately, more serious side effects are possible as well including anaphylaxis, a rare but very severe allergic reaction which develops almost immediately after receiving the shot.
Despite the risks mentioned above, the overwhelming majority of experts agree that all dogs and cats should receive core vaccines or vaccines for which there is a universal agreement that they are vital for pets’ health. In addition to core vaccines, there are also the so-called non-core vaccines but they are not recommended for all pets. Instead, they are recommended for dogs and cats that are at risk of a particular disease/condition due to their lifestyle or location, or both. An example of this is the rattlesnake vaccine. Those that live in rattlesnake territory are advised to keep that vaccine up to date, while others who live away from them (urban areas) have no need for it.
Though side effects, especially severe reactions are very rare, most experts agree that the low percentage of a reaction is worth protecting your pet from a number of other issues. According to most experts, too many vaccines are an “attack” on the immune system which can negatively affect the pet’s health. For the very same reason, many recommend against blanket annual vaccines, since some vaccines are annual but some are every three years. Your vet will know which is which.
To make sure that your pet receives all the vaccines he/she needs and avoid the risk of over vaccinating at the same time, you are advised to ask your vet to help you understand both the benefits and risks of particular vaccines, which vaccines are recommended for your pet, which are not necessary, and how often should your pet get his/her shots.