Why Should You Vaccinate Your Pet? You love your pet and want them to stay happy and healthy for as long as possible, which is why vaccines play such an important role in both of your lives. They not only help protect your pet from various fatal disease, but can also help protect YOU from zoonotic diseases. A zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted from animals to humans. Rabies is a zoonotic disease and while rabies is not that common anymore, thanks to routine vaccination, if contacted it can be fatal to both you and your pet. This is why an up-to-date rabies vaccine is actually required by law. The Center for Disease Control continues to monitor vaccine safety and the Federal Drug Administration will not allow a vaccine to be manufactured if it does not meet rigorous safety standards. The vaccine will prevent your pet from contracting a potentially deadly disease and there is only a small chance of more serious adverse side effects. According to the AVMA, mild side effects usually starting within hours of the vaccination, such as discomfort and local swelling at vaccination site, mild fever, decreased appetite and activity, sneezing, mild coughing or respiratory signs after an intranasal vaccine. Rarer, but more serious side effects can occur like vomiting, diarrhea, facial swelling, hives and anaphylaxis. Some have also suggested that half the normal dose of the vaccine may be more appropriate for small animals; however, this is not true. While it may seem odd that a small dog and a large dog are both to receive the same volume of vaccine, the immune system doesn’t see things that way. The antigen dose is the minimum immunostimulatory dose. The immunologic body size is the same whether we have a Chihuahua or a Great Dane. Splitting a dose not only runs the risk of ineffective protection but also invalidates any manufacturer’s warranty on the product. If you’re allergic to peanuts, eating half of a peanut rather than the whole peanut is not safer or less likely to cause a reaction. You don’t wear a seatbelt because you expect to be in a serious accident; you wear it because you want to be protected in the unlikely event that you are. If you’re never in an accident, the benefit of wearing a seatbelt might be zero. But if you are, the consequences of not wearing it can be very high. I never want a patient to get a vaccine reaction, but I know I’d rather treat a vaccine reaction than have that patient die from a preventable fatal disease.
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