Why You Should Vaccinate Your Pet

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The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association) supports the use of vaccines by veterinarians to control and prevent infectious disease in animals, including dogs and cats. Vaccines play a crucial role in veterinary preventive medicine and in the reduction in the risk of human exposure to zoonotic disease. Your veterinarian should ensure that you are informed of, and understand the risk factors associated with infectious disease, as well as the benefits and any associated risks of vaccination.

• Vaccines play an important role in both animal and human health and welfare.

• Vaccines registered for use in Canada have been tested for safety and efficacy and can be administered with confidence when used in accordance with label instructions and veterinary advice.

• Adverse effects, if any, should be reported.

•Vaccine protocols including antigen selection and re-vaccination intervals should be individualized, based on geographic location, in-door or out-door activity, pet health status, pet age and vaccination history.

1. Vaccines play an important role in animal and human health by:

a) protecting animals from infectious diseases;

b) protecting human health in the case of vaccinating animals for zoonotic diseases, e.g., rabies;

c) contributing to animal health and welfare by helping to control disease and thereby reducing disease suffering and mortality; and

d) helping to reduce the need for antimicrobials and associated risks from the development of antimicrobial resistance, eg. canine bordetella.

2. In Canada, veterinary biologics, including vaccines, are regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Vaccines registered for use in Canada have been tested for purity, potency, safety and efficacy when used in the target species according to the manufacturer’s label recommendations. Manufacturers’ instructions should be carefully followed. In all cases, the volume of vaccine administered is determined by the what is required to produce a proper immune response in the patient and should not be adjusted based on the size of the patient (e.g., smaller dogs require the same volume of vaccine as larger dogs).

3. The vaccination needs of every patient should be assessed regularly by a veterinarian as part of a comprehensive preventative health care strategy. The decision to administer a particular vaccine should be based on a risk assessment that considers the likelihood of exposure to a disease agent, transmissibility of disease in question, the health status on the patient(s), severity of the disease, health status of the pet and age of the pet.

4. Measurement of serum antibody titres may provide baseline information to monitor immunity, and help veterinarians in advising their clients about vaccination decisions. (Titres may not always be predictive of an individual patient’s immune status, and results may vary among tests, and between laboratories.)

5. The use of vaccines is associated with certain risks, including adverse reactions. Most adverse reactions are transient, mild, and occur infrequently. Your veterinarian should make you aware of both the potential risks, as well as the benefits of vaccination.

6. Even if vaccination for a pet is not indicated due to health status or age, annual or bi-annual physical exam is needed. Pets age faster, one year for a dog or cat equals five to seven years for human. If you would like more information, please call (204)-586-3334 or visit Animal Hospital of Manitoba at 995 Main Street, Winnipeg R2W 3P8.