We owe it to our cats and dogs as well as to our human family members to take precautions about several highly contagious and dangerous diseases.

Many of us don’t think much about pet vaccinations, either because they’re just a routine part of an annual exam or because we have decided that they are optional. Both attitudes are a little dangerous. We owe it to ourselves and our neighbors to be aware of the value of vaccines. And we owe it to our cats and dogs as well as our human family members to take precautions against several highly contagious and dangerous diseases.

Young dogs and cats are particularly vulnerable to disease; they need a series of shots in the first months of their lives to boost their immunity. This is a good investment:  it’s much cheaper to vaccinate an animal according to the recommended schedule than to provide veterinary care for a sick pet.

The rabies vaccine is the one vaccine that is required by law for all dogs and cats in Kirksville. There is a good reason for this: the rabies virus occurs in many different species and can be passed from a skunk to your cat or dog with just one very unpleasant bite. Even an indoor cat could be exposed to the rabies virus if it encounters a bat that has made its way into your attic. When dogs or cats bite humans, the possibility of rabies transmission is always a serious concern

I won’t go into details about the symptoms of this disease. (They are pretty scary. And infection with rabies is always fatal. ) All we really need to know is that an annual rabies vaccine effectively protects our pets from infection with rabies. The shot costs about $10 from a licensed veterinarian. That’s an excellent investment in your family’s health.

Other Core Vaccines
Other vaccines are recommended for all cats and dogs. These core vaccines protect against diseases such as canine parvovirus, canine hepatitis, and canine distemper (for dogs) and feline distemper, feline calici virus, and feline viral rhinotracheitis (for cats).

These diseases aren’t easily transferred from pets to humans, but all are highly contagious within the species. That’s why it’s so important to limit the activity of your new puppy or kitten. Between the ages of 6 and 20 weeks, baby animals are especially vulnerable to disease. Like the child who goes to school and catches every cold that’s going around, these youngsters have lowered immunity and can easily get sick. Keep young puppies and kittens away from other animals, unless you know for sure that the other animals have been vaccinated. And, as was mentioned above, you should talk to your veterinarian about getting your kitten or puppy  on a vaccination schedule, usually starting at six weeks and repeating every two weeks until the animal is 16 weeks old.

If cost is a concern, ask your veterinarian about low cost vaccine clinics. KV-POP is in the process of compiling a list of such events and will be posting this information on our website in the coming weeks.