Over the last several years, the vaccination protocol has been closely scrutinized in dogs and cats. We recognize vaccines have made many diseases in dogs and cats very rare that in years past were commonly fatal, however veterinary scientists have raised questions about the necessity and frequency of vaccinations for our pets. While veterinarians traditionally followed manufacturers recommendations from the standpoint of vaccination frequency, evidence has mounted that suggests vaccinations may last longer than was presumed.
Vaccines are solutions of killed or weakened microbes that trigger the immune system to produce antibodies against the disease vaccinated for. It is important to recognize that while vaccinations seem to be safe, no medical procedure is without risk and over stimulation of the immune system can theoretically cause unwanted damage to other organs. So it stands to reason we want to be certain to vaccinate only for diseases your pet has a realistic chance to contract and at the frequency necessary.
The safety and protection of your pet are our primary focus. Subsequently we have adopted the vaccination protocols as suggested by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), and the American Academy of Feline Practioners (AAFP). The protocols limit vaccination frequency and more closely correlate vaccinations to the lifestyle of the pet.
Ridgemont Animal Hospital will recommend that after initial puppy and kitten vaccinations and first annual booster that adult dogs and cats be given "core group" vaccinations once every 3 years. "Core group" vaccines are essential vaccines that offer immunity to highly contagious lethal diseases that we must continue to be vigilant for.
For dogs, "core group" vaccinations include: Rabies Virus, Distemper Virus, Hepatitis, and Parvovirus. "Non-core group" vaccines in dogs include: Canine Bordetella (Kennel Cough), Lyme Disease, Giardia, Corona Virus, and Leptospirosis. The non-core group vaccines will be given according to your dog's risk of exposure. It is important to note that in western New York, Leptospirosis continues to be a serious enough risk to your dog that we will recommend it once per year even when no other vaccines are due.
For cats, "core group" vaccines include Rabies Virus, Panleukopenia, Calici Virus and Herpes Virus. Non-core group vaccines include Feline Leukemia, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, Bordetella, Chlamydia, Giardia, and Ringworm. We will still consider feline Leukemia Vaccines to be necessary annually for your cat if it has an outdoor lifestyle.
Also, keep in mind that your pets "annual physical exam" with or without vaccinations is the single most important procedure we can perform on your dog or cat, as pets age 5-7 times more quickly than people. These exams allow us to discuss health issues such as diet, weight gain or loss, and behavioral concerns. We will examine all organ systems, make recommendations for appropriate screening tests and set up management plans for diagnosed problems.
At the time your pet is vaccinated, you will be asked to sign a "vaccination authorization" (consent). We will be happy to address any questions or concerns at that time. Also, feel free to call if you would like further information.
The Staff at Ridgemont Animal Hospital