A Canton, Georgia animal clinic seeks to educate the pet-owning public on the need to vaccinate their dogs and cats against a variety of deadly diseases. According to Dr. Michael Good of Acres Mill Veterinary Clinic, these periodic injections provide vital immunity against rabies, distemper and other communicable illnesses from the first few weeks of life. "By scheduling these vaccinations early on and then updating them as needed through booster shots, pet owners can help ensure their pets' long-term wellness while also preventing the spread of dangerous pathogens among animals and humans," Dr. Good says.
He goes on to explain that vaccines are substances that closely resemble the pathogen they're designed to protect against. "When an inactivated or modified virus or bacterium is introduced to the pet's bloodstream, the immune system responds to the perceived intruder by creating antibodies against it. The immune system then develops a 'memory' of the pathogen so it can continue to produce the protective antibodies in the future," he says. Dr. Good notes that vaccination is necessary when pets are just a few weeks old because the natural protection they received from their mothers quickly fades following birth, leaving them vulnerable to disease.
Acres Mill Veterinary Clinic administers two basic categories of vaccination, "core" or "non-core." Dr. Good describes core vaccinations as those that convey protection against the most common threats to canine or feline health. The veterinarian identifies rabies shots as a core vaccination necessary for both dogs and cats, adding that this neurological disease can spread to other animals or even humans through the bites of aggressive rabid animals. He states that rabies is always fatal and cannot even be confirmed until the pet is dead. The clinic's other core vaccinations differ from species to species. Dogs typically receive a DHPP shot for combined protection against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and parainfluenza, while receive an FVRCP shot that guards against feline viral rhinotracheitis, distemper and calicivirus.
Veterinarians in different regions will have protocols that differ from Dr. Goode's, based on the threat of a particular disease and concerns about over-vaccination. For dogs in Upstate New York, the Lyme vaccine is much more important than it is in other parts of the nation, while the threat of chlamydia for cats is not necessarily grave enough to warrant annual vaccination.
Along those lines, core vaccinations may not be enough, agrees Dr. Good. "Animals who engage in extensive outdoor activity or who interact with farm animals, for instance, may require a non-core vaccination against leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that attacks the kidneys," he says. He also cites vaccinations against bordetella, a pathogen that causes "kennel cough," as a sensible precaution for dogs for spend a lot of time in boarding facilities.
Dr. Good urges Canton pet owners to schedule booster shots according to recommended schedules. "Vaccinations eventually lose their protective powers, so updates are an important aspect of keeping up resistance," he says. During your pet's annual wellness visit, be sure to discuss vaccines with your technician and veterinarian, so you can rest assured that your pets get the protection they need.