Vaccination in general has never been more debated. Therefore pet vaccination is starting to be questioned nowadays. Because of the current pandemic, the role of a preventive solutions has been the daily job for our scientist and researchers.

It is so important to prevent rather than cure diseases. As this is the main role of vaccines.

Unfortunately the anti vax movements in humans have a great influence towards their pets. There is strong evidence that vaccination has reduced the spread of highly contagious diseases.

I am not going to talk specifically about dog vaccination or cat vaccination. If you click on the links you will be redirected to the specific category.

Why is vaccination important for your pet?

Just like children, dogs and cats need vaccinations against dangerous viral and bacterial diseases. Pet vaccination remains the single most effective method for protecting against infectious disease in healthy animals. Without proper vaccination, your pet is left unprotected.

Vaccines are preventative rather than curative. Vaccinations protect your pet from several highly contagious diseases. It also protects against transmissible diseases such as rabies that also pose a risk to humans.

Very important: If you do not have your pet vaccinated (or up to date with booster vaccination), you may find your pet insurance will be invalidated. As well as protecting your own pet, you are also helping protect the wider pet population from diseases spreading.

Vaccinations are needed to:

  • Protect our pets from nasty, life threatening diseases
  • Give peace of mind
  • Create or boost our pets immunity to certain diseases
  • Prevent pets from passing on a disease such as Leptospirosis, which can be passed from animals to people

Sadly, your pet can catch diseases which, if they aren’t vaccinated against, are fatal in most cases. Even if your pet catches one and is able to recover, they will often be left with long-term problems which can put them through a lot of pain and distress and leave you with some costly vet bills.

 

History of vaccines

Paradoxically, in many ways, vaccination has become a victim of its own success. One of the reasons some people fail to recognise the importance of immunising both children and pets is because of the perceived diminished risk of disease, which is precisely thanks to historic vaccination efforts in the first place. Many people have no experience with how terrible those diseases can be.

The story of vaccines did not begin with the first vaccine–Edward Jenner’s use of material from cowpox pustules to provide protection against smallpox. Rather, it begins with the long history of infectious disease in humans, and in particular, with early uses of smallpox material to provide immunity to that disease.

 

Evidence exists that the Chinese employed smallpox inoculation (or variolation, as such use of smallpox material was called) as early as 1000 CE. It was practiced in Africa and Turkey as well, before it spread to Europe and the Americas.

 

Edward Jenner’s innovations, begun with his successful 1796 use of cowpox material to create immunity to smallpox, quickly made the practice widespread. His method underwent medical and technological changes over the next 200 years, and eventually resulted in the eradication of smallpox.

 

Louis Pasteur’s 1885 rabies vaccine was the next to make an impact on human disease. And then, at the dawn of bacteriology, developments rapidly followed. Antitoxins and vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, anthrax, cholera, plague, typhoid, tuberculosis, and more were developed through the 1930s.

When can my puppy or kitten go outside and mix with others?

It’s important to socialise your pet from a young age as it helps them develop happy, confident personalities. This means having lots of positive experiences with different people, animals and the everyday things they can expect throughout their lives.

Meeting other pets and people

Your kitten or puppy should generally be safe to mix with healthy, fully vaccinated pets within your own home. There is still a small risk of young pets getting germs from outside due to other pets or people bringing things in when they’ve have been out for walks, or people come to visit them. So during this time, it’s best to wash paws (and feet!) to stop any bugs being brought in.

At this stage, it’s best not to take your puppy or kitten to anyone else’s house. You can start socialising them with new things and people, but it’s best to keep this at your house until they are fully vaccinated.

Going outside

If you have a secure garden where other pets don’t go, your puppy should be able to explore your garden straight away. If you need to take your puppy or kitten out of the house, it’s best to use a carrier or something similar so they are kept off the floor. Once they’ve had all their vaccinations, your vet will be able to advise you when it’s safe for them to go outside and mix with other pets. Some vaccines take a little longer to build immunity than others, so ask your vet and follow their advice.

If you plan on giving your kitten free reign of the outdoors, it’s best to wait until they are fully vaccinated and neutered before letting them outside.

Types of vaccines

The main types of pet vaccines available can be categorised as modified-live (attenuated), inactivated and recombinant.

  • Modified-live (attenuated): a vaccine that contains an intact but weakened pathogen which stimulates an immune response but does not cause clinical disease.
  • Inactivated (killed): a vaccine that contains a completely inactivated pathogen, which is no longer infectious. These vaccines often contain an adjuvant, which is a compound added to help improve the protective immune response.
  • Recombinant: a vaccine that is produced using genetic engineering technology and using specific genetic material from a pathogen to produce proteins which will stimulate an immune response when the animal is vaccinated.
  • Toxoid: a vaccine that is based on inactivated toxins produced by pathogens. These vaccines stimulate immunity and protect the animal against these toxins.

Research and innovation has also resulted in the development of novel and more sophisticated technologies such as marker vaccines. Typically, when animals are vaccinated they produce an immune response that resembles that of a natural infection. It can then be difficult when testing animals to determine if they have been naturally infected or if they have been vaccinated. An example is the farm animal marker vaccine for Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) – a highly contagious respiratory disease in cattle.

Irrespective of the type of vaccine used, an animal should be in good health at the time of vaccination – as a properly functioning immune system is needed to stimulate a good immune response and develop an effective level of protection. Initially a primary vaccination course should be completed and depending on the vaccine type and the species of animal, it may be necessary to follow up with booster vaccinations at intervals based on veterinary advice and the characteristics of the vaccine, to maintain protective immunity throughout the animals’ lifetime.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ when vaccinating animals and vaccination protocols should be tailored, based on veterinary consultation, for individual pets or groups of farm animals. This is because animals are exposed to a range of different risk factors related to their age, lifestyle, prevailing disease threats and travel/movement. These factors should be discussed with the vet to decide on the most appropriate choice of vaccine and vaccination protocol

 

References:

https://www.understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/news/animal-welfare-alternatives/why-vaccinate-your-pets/

https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/all-pets/why-vaccinating-your-pet-is-important#contents-link-1

https://www.historyofvaccines.org/timeline/all

https://www.rvc.ac.uk/small-animal-vet/general-practice/practice-services/routine-pet-healthcare/vaccinations