Ask the Veterinary Services Expert – Leah Turner

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Ask the Veterinary Services Expert – Leah Turner

The same thing is happening with pets. We are hearing of some cases of distemper in dogs.  It is a horrible disease and is also very contagious.  People are not wanting to vaccinate their animals either for fear of a reaction to the you see the front of the February 23 MacLean’s Magazine?  The caption was “The Real Vaccine Scandal”.  Religious groups in BC and in Quebec don’t believe in vaccinating their children and now there is a measles outbreak.  Measles is a super contagious virus so alot of kids are getting sick and most are recovering but there can be serious complications in some children.

For 14 years I practiced in Manitoba and never worried about a vaccine reaction.  The odd dog got a lump from the vaccine or felt a little blah for a day but usually got over it.

When I started working here where there were more small animals vaccinated we would see some vaccine reactions.  To have a house call practice in Alberta you have to carry an oxygen tank just in case of a vaccine reaction.  I thought it was crazy to carry a potential bomb in the case of an accident in your vehicle.

Normally we vaccinate dogs and cats at 8, 12, and 16 weeks and then yearly after that.  People started to wonder why we get vaccines as a child but never again and are still protected.  Tetanus vaccine lasts for 7 years. “ Why does dog vaccine only last 1 year?” people asked.  So they started looking into it.

Now most clinics vaccinate dogs every three years after the initial puppy shots and the yearly booster.  Kennel cough is still needed yearly.  Rabies probably last 3 years but there are provincial, state and and international laws that determine how often that vaccine is given.

One cat vaccine can be given every 3 years but the feline leukemia and the new cat rabies need to be given yearly so far.  Some cats even got tumors from the adjuvant in the old rabies vaccine.  Adjuvants are chemicals in vaccines to make them last longer or work better.

If you don’t want to vaccinate your pets as often as we reccomend you can have titres done to see if they have high enough immunity but this is a new idea and is so far quite expensive.

We still need to vaccinate to prevent a widespread epidemic of disease but we are being more careful and trying to learn more about vaccine intervals.  They are even developing vaccines to treat cancer in pets.  Don’t quit vaccinating!!!