Sensible vaccination schedule for pets benefits owners in Costa Mesa
Inoculations prevent many diseases with the potential to cause your pet a great deal of misery. A responsible vaccination schedule for your cat or dog also has big benefits for you. With years of experience caring for pets in the Costa Mesa area, Dr. Rand Spongberg shares this helpful information.
How vaccines protect pets
A cat or dog’s immune system is designed to recognized foreign invaders – usually viruses or bacteria – that could be a threat to health or life. Lymphocytes (immune cells) produce protein molecules called antibodies to combat the antigen (invader). A healthy pet produces countless antibodies each day, fighting antigen invasion so efficiently you do not realize the animal was exposed. However, it takes a few days for the immune system to build an adequate defense for first time exposure to an antigen. That gives an aggressive disease time to infect the body. The process of battling an established and spreading infection is much more challenging.
A vaccine is developed from a weakened or killed antigen. It is not virulent enough to trigger infection, but the immune system still recognizes an enemy and produces antibodies in response. Memory cells remain in the body, after the threat has dissipated. When that particular antigen is encountered again, memory cells spring into action, generating antibodies fast, before the disease causes harm.
What vaccination schedule is recommended for pets in Costa Mesa, CA?
The AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) recommends these core vaccines for dogs:
- Adenovirus-2 (canine infectious hepatitis)
- Parainfluenza virus
The first three inoculations usually begin at six to eight weeks of age, with sequential doses at three-to-four week intervals. However, the doctor may modify this schedule for dogs in a high-risk environment. Then, a single-dose booster is administered within a year of completion of the sequence, and at one or three-year intervals for the remainder of the pet’s life.
A puppy must be at least 12 weeks old to receive the first rabies vaccine. The second dose is given within a year of the initial treatment. After that, the doctor advises one- or three- year dosing based on the pet’s exposure.
Cats also need core vaccinations:
- Panleukopenia, a life-threatening feline virus
- Calicivirus, a serious respiratory disease
- Feline herpesvirus, a highly contagious condition that triggers upper respiratory infections
- Feline leukemia, which causes immune suppression in cats (and is eventually fatal)
A kitten dosing schedule is tailored to the animal’s initial age and health.
Dr. Spongberg may recommend additional non-core vaccinations for conditions specific to the Orange County area and your pet’s lifestyle.
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Dangers of excessive vaxxing are sometimes sensationalized in media. In truth, however, vaccines are safe for reasonably healthy pets who receive necessary medical attention. If you are concerned about over-vaccinating, Dr. Spongberg can perform titer testing. With a simple blood draw, the doctor can identify existing antibody for specific diseases, present in the animal’s body. Whether these antibodies came from previous vaccination or natural exposure, they indicate some level of protection.
Benefits for pet-owners
A pet may experience mild and brief discomfort (which can include elevated temperature, cough, loss of appetite, digestive upset, or mood changes) after vaccinations. However, most responsible pet owners agree it is well worth these potential side effects to secure the pet’s protection from serious disease.
Meanwhile, let’s take a look at advantages of vaccinating for you, the pet’s owner:
- Cost effective – The first year of vaccines for a puppy or kitten generally cost less than $200. By comparison, cost of treatment for canine parvo can easily run $500 to $1,000. The expense of treating a single respiratory infection (without secondary problems) in your cat is about $200.
- Peace of mind – An unvaccinated pet suffers needlessly during course of the disease and treatment. You could lose your best friend – especially a vulnerable young or senior animal – to a grave condition that could have been avoided.
- Happy family – Properly vaccinated pets pose little or no risk to new animals introduced into the household or encountered on play dates. You can also feel good about having healthy pets around your children.
- Right with the law – Every county in California requires rabies vaccinations for dogs, four months or older. Cats are now reported as rabid more frequently than any other domestic animal in this country. Though not yet required by law, because of risk to pets and pet owners, rabies vaccination is strongly recommended for all cats. Even an indoor pet can escape outside and encounter a wild animal.
Talk with Dr. Spongberg about safeguarding your pets with a vaccination schedule designed for your needs. The number for All Creatures Care Cottage Veterinary Hospital in Costa Mesa, CA is (949) 430-7576.