Why does my pet need vaccines?

Dr. Kerri Blackburn

 How do Vaccines Work?

Vaccines are a method to teach the body’s immune system how to fight off a disease.

  • A vaccine has parts of a virus or bacteria in it- not the whole bacteria or virus. This is enough for the immune system to recognize that there is an invader present.  The body then fights off the vaccine’s bacterial and viral parts. This is why we sometimes feel sick after a vaccine.
  • The immune system stores the knowledge of how to fight the disease for a period of time. This in turn protects your pet in case the virus or bacteria comes back.
  • After awhile, if not used, the immune system will forget this knowledge. Your pet still needs this knowledge since many of the diseases you pet was vaccinated against, exist in the environment at all times. For this reason “booster vaccines” are given to remind the immune system how to fight these diseases.

Why are Vaccines Necessary?

  • Vaccines are very important to your pet’s health. They prevent several very dangerous, often severe and life-threatening diseases like rabies, distemper and parvovirus.
  • Aside from your pet’s health, the health of you and your family is also a reason that vaccines are necessary. Some of the diseases that your pet will be vaccinated for can pose a risk to humans.
  • North Carolina rabies law requires that all owned dogs, cats and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies by four months of age. Rabies vaccinations must then be kept current with booster vaccines.

Vaccines are selected based on diseases frequently seen in a geographical area, the risks to humans (rabies), legal requirements and a pet’s individual lifestyle risks. At Animal Medical Hospital we take vaccines and the diseases they prevent very seriously. We routinely review our vaccine protocols to ensure the health and safety of the pets and their families that we see. If you have questions about our protocol or the vaccines we use, please ask our veterinarians. We are always happy to discuss and know that this can be a hot button issue for some families.

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