Is it necessary to vaccinate older pets?

Is it neccesary to vaccinate older pets? Many people beleive that we overvaccinate our pets, and that can be harmful to keep up with there vaccines as they become seniors. Many people beleive that since there pet has had a dozen distemper vaccines in its lifetime, it seems impossible that they would contract distemper. Unfortunately, vaccines have not been proven to have that sort or cumulative effect. Dangerous diseases such as parvo are common in puppies because puppies do not yet have fully developed immune systems. It is very important to vaccine senior pets because as they age thier immune system can deteriorate. Puppies are far more resiliant than seniors, so illness can take a much greater toll on seniors. It would be ashame to lose your beloved pet of many years to a disease that could have been prevented by remaining current on vaccinations.


Vaccine manufacturers are constantly continuing research on how long immunity lasts after vaccination. They are dveloping new types of vaccines that can offer longer immuniies. They are finding ways to make vaccines that are less likely to cause side effects. Most practicing veterinarians are open to these new developments in technology, and adjust their protocols for vaccine schedules according to manufacturer labeling. For example, there are now vaccines for viruses that lest three years, such as rabies, distemper, and parvo for dogs, and fvrcp vaccines for cats. A few years ago these vaccines were given annualy. Vaccines against Leptospirosis and Bordetella/Parainfluenza must be given every 6 months. These diseases are bacterins. Vaccines for bacterins lose effecacy much faster than vaccines for viruses. However, researchers are studying to find ways to make these vaccines last longer. The goal is to vaccinate as little as possible, while maintaining protection. Become familiar with your veterinarians reccommended vaccine schedule. Ask if they offer 3 year vaccines, and what they require to get on a three year schedule. For example, in Texas a dog must recieve 2 rabies vaccines within 365 days of each other to be eligible for a three year vaccine. The Rabies vaccine is extreamly important, as it is required by law in most place.

Some pets are particularly sensitive to vaccinations. They may be inappetant and/ or lethargic for a few days after the vaccines. This can be scary, but it most always resolves without any treatment. Some pets can have allergic reactions to vaccines. At the clinic I work at, we give vaccine allergic dogs a diphenhydramine (benedryl) injection before vaccinating. This usually prevents any allergic reaction by halting it before it starts. Vaccine sensitivity is most often seen in small breed dogs, but may occur in any breed or in cats. Some pets may develop sensitivity with age. If a dog is sensitive to vaccines, we may reccommend spliting the visit, doing the vaccines one or two at a time rather that all at once. Most vets would be open to doing this at the pet owners request.

The best thing you can do for your senior pet, or any pet, is to be an informed owner. Do your research. Understand what your pet needs, and why. Feel free to ask your veterinarian as many questions as you can think of. You know your pet better than anyone, and your vet will appreciate you playing an active roll in your pets care.

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