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Vaccines 101

Vaccinations are an important tool that we, as veterinarians, use to keep your pet healthy. When we vaccinate your pet, we give an altered form of a bacteria or virus. It is injected under the skin, given intra-nasally, or by mouth. The vaccination triggers an immune response in your pet in order to protect them contagious and deadly diseases. Vaccines not only prevent diseases that can be transmitted between animals, but also from animals to humans. The protection that vaccines provide also helps you avoid costly treatment of various diseases for your pet down the road.

As veterinarians, we think of vaccines as falling into one of two main categories- Core and Non-core. Core vaccines are those considered essential for most pets in a particular geographic location, as they offer protection from diseases most common to that area. Two such examples are the Distemper (DHLPP, DHPP) and Rabies vaccines. Non-core vaccines are optional vaccines that should be considered depending on a pet’s unique needs. Lyme vaccine is an example of a Non-Core vaccine.

It is important to remember that not all vaccines are 100% effective. A vaccinated pet may not develop adequate immunity to a particular disease and may still become ill.

Additionally, just as in human medicine, there are risks associated with vaccination. The risks should be weighed against the benefits of protecting your pet, family, and community. Most pets respond very well to the administration of vaccines.

Some clients choose to have antibody titers (blood tests) done in lieu of having their pet vaccinated. While titers do not replace vaccine programs, they may serve as a guide for determining if your pet has an adequate level of protection against disease.

At Mount Laurel Animal Hospital, we feel it is very important to tailor your animal’s vaccination program to their individual needs. Our goal is to help your pet experience the best level of protection from infectious diseases. We want to assess each pet’s risks for exposure to preventable diseases. Please be sure to let us know about any changes in geographic location, travel itineraries, and plans to add new animals to the household, as this may affect our vaccine recommendations for your pet.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with us. Together, we can work to provide top-notch quality care for your pet.

Author: Dr. Lauren Coblentz

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