Vaccinations: The importance of keeping your pet up to date

When it comes to vaccines for your cat or dog, there are two different categories: core and non-core. (Ashley Hoak/KTVO)

Getting your pet vaccinated - it's something all pet owners are required to do. But, some are now asking if the shots could be doing more harm than good.

KTVO spoke with one Heartland veterinarian to see if that really is the case.

Just like humans need proper vaccinations to help stay healthy, our furry friends do as well. For many pet owners, they have the question of how often they need to make a trip to the vet to receive the shots.

Dr. Jenny Lindquist, veterinarian and owner of Lindquist Veterinary Care in Kirksville says that if you're a first time pet owner, or switching from a different practice, it's always best to have a thorough first time physical exam to review any previous shots and the pets' lifestyle.

"First time vaccinations always are very tailored to what your pets individual situation is, what maybe their previous vaccine history is, or if they are completely naive and haven't had any at all," said Lindquist. "So, it's always a good idea to start fresh."

When it comes to vaccines for your cat or dog, there are two different categories: core and non-core.

Core vaccines are considered vital to all animals based on risk exposure, severity of disease or even the possibility of being passed on to humans.

"Rabies vaccine is always across the board, across the species, rabies vaccines are the important ones because those are zoonotic, which means people can also be involved with rabies situations."

Additional core vaccines for dogs include: parvo-virus, distemper and canine hepatitis.

Core vaccines for cats are made up of feline distemper, feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus type I.

Lindquist says the other category of shots focuses more on differing factors in your pets life.

"When you get to the non-core vaccines, those tend to do more with the situation, the animals lifestyle, or perhaps geographical regions where there may be more tick borne diseases associated, or there may be certain diseases that are more prone to that area."

Although the vaccines are doing the job to protect your pet, there is also the possibility for side-effects. Lindquist says although having an adverse reaction is rare, it's something owners should be on the lookout for.

"Most of the time, the side-effect that we see is they are a little bit tired for the day, and they usually get over that in 24-hours. So, that is called a vaccine reaction, so to speak."

Other possible side effects include discomfort and local swelling at the vaccination site, mild fever, diminished appetite or activity and sneezing or other respiratory signs.

"In those cases, we always ask that people call us, tell us what is going on with that. We can make accommodations for future vaccines, or if we feel like that is something severe, or need to know about, have them bring the animal in so we can treat for that."

Some pet owners say they also worry about the possibility of over vaccinating their animal. Lindquist says for the most part, the general rule of thumb is to vaccinate pets at their annual exam.

"However, if animals have certain diseases or they are not feeling well, certain cancers, certain immune compromised situations, then that would be over vaccinating at that point to be more worried about their vaccine status then the fact they should be dealing with an immune suppression."

Lindquist adds that the number one piece of advice that she can offer to pet owners is to ask questions.

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