Immunization Series Part 4

14 Aug Immunization Series Part 4

What are the benefits and risks of immunization?

Immunization is an important part of keeping your pet healthy and safe from infectious diseases. Vaccinations continue to evolve through research and development to increase their effectiveness and safety. While there are some risks to vaccination just like any other medical procedure or treatment, they are very uncommon and are often mild reactions. Read on to learn more about the breakdown of risks versus benefits of immunization.

Immunization Risks

  • Some pets may experience mild side effects after being vaccinated, these should be closely monitored but typically do not cause reason to worry
    • Common mild reactions include swelling at the injection site, low fever, lack of appetite and decreased activity
    • After an intranasal vaccine, your pet may experience a mild cough, sneezing, or nasal drainage for a few days
  • Serious adverse reactions to vaccines are rare, but are considered medical emergencies. If your pet experiences any of the following shortly after a vaccine (minutes to hours), you should seek care from your veterinarian or a nearby emergency clinic immediately: collapse, difficulty breathing, swelling around the face or neck area, frequent vomiting or diarrhea, or skin rash (“hives” like)
  • Swelling near the injection site that lasts for longer than a few weeks should be examined by your veterinarian

Immunization Benefits

  • Vaccines build up your pet’s immune system against serious, infectious diseases
  • Immunizations are one of the safest preventative measures against controlling and eliminating infectious diseases
  • They are often more cost effective than treating a disease that could have been prevented
  • Routine immunization helps promote the idea of “herd health” to reduce the spread of disease among the population of dogs and cats
  • Immunizations reduce the likelihood of zoonotic disease transmission from your pet to your family or community
  • They protect your pet against environmental threats or encounters that you may not be aware of, like diseases spread among wildlife
  • Maintain compliance with state laws that require certain vaccinations, like rabies in Indiana
  • Protect your pet in the event that you would like to travel to another region where risk of a disease is higher than where you normally live
  • Vaccinations protect your pet during trips to the dog park or boarding where they may come into contact with infected animals or contaminated environments
  • Help to prevent your animal from becoming seriously ill or even dying from infectious disease should they be exposed and infected

Ultimately, the decision to vaccinate your pet is completely your own. Do not hesitate to discuss with your veterinarian regarding an appropriate immunization plan for your pet. As veterinarians, we are here to help guide you with our knowledge and expertise to make the best decision possible for your pet’s health and safety with regard to their age, lifestyle, and potential risk. In addition to this list above, if you would like to look at more information regarding vaccination risks and benefits, be careful to check that you are obtaining information from reliable sources that is supported by research. Vaccination has helped to diminish diseases like small pox and polio, and has limited the incidence of rabies among dogs in the United States creating a lower risk for spread to humans through this route. In my opinion and experience, routine vaccination has proven valuable for protecting countless pets from serious, preventable diseases.