Vaccines – Needed or Not?

Every time I bring one of my pets to the vet, I wonder how much it’s going to be THIS time. I mean, veterinary costs are HUGE! Vaccinations, testing for this, testing for that, preventing this thing, preventing that…. Is it really NECESSARY? Especially with the economy the way it is…. Do I REALLY need ALL those things? Can I make vet bills one of the things I can cut back on?

Well, let’s look at vaccinations first. The Rabies vaccination is a requirement for all dogs and cats in the state of Connecticut. It’s a law so it has to be done. Period. Last time I checked, failure to vaccinate your pet for Rabies is a $121.00 fine (why 121 and not 120? I don’t even have a clue!).

For dogs, Distemper, Adenovirus, Leptospirosis and Parvo Virus are usually combined into one vaccination. Some vets say annual is necessary; some say every three years is good, once the pet has reached adulthood, although Leptospirosis is recommended for an annual vaccination. For cats, Panleukopenia, Calcivirus and Herpesvirus are given.

Now, there are other vaccinations as well – Bordatella for both dogs and cats is a vaccination kennels require if the pet is going to be boarded for any period of time. This one is pretty much optional if you’re not going to board your pet, take it to daycare or expose it to other pets that might be carrying it. (Bordatella vaccination fights Kennel Cough – an upper respiratory illness – much like the cold in people).

Lyme vaccination for dogs is recommended but not required. And I know there is a lot of controversy out there with this one, so having a chat with your veterinarian is a great idea here.

For cats, the Feline Leukemia vaccination is a vaccination that is, most times, optional. Because Leukemia is spread from cat to cat, if your cat is an indoor only cat, you might not need this one. Again, it’s a discussion you should have with your veterinarian to determine the risks involved.

Heartworm testing, AIDS testing, Leukemia testing….. All of these tests can determine the health of your pet and whether your pet is likely to infect another pet. A pet infested with heartworms is a VERY sick pet. It’s well worth it to NOT skimp on this one! Your vet can tell you which ones are necessary and which are optional. A Feline Leukemia or AIDS positive cat should never be allowed contact with a cat that is negative for these diseases.

There is also testing available to see if your pet has developed proper levels of antibodies against a particular disease. This can determine the frequency of vaccination necessity.

So the long and short of it is that there are some vaccinations that can save your pet’s life, while others are optional. Only you and your veterinarian can determine which ones are which and how often your pet needs them.


3 Responses

  1. Hi Liz ! I DO bring my cats in for regular check ups and vaccines – all are spayed and neutered -but wonder WHY Rabies is indicated for indoor cats ? They have all been together for the past 5 years – none were ever a stray…
    So where are they going to get Rabies from ? Where are they going to get ANY disease from ? They NEVER step foot outside and aren’t in contact with any other animals !
    Just seems like another way to make money to me!

  2. Hi,
    Vaccination of your pets should be discussed on a case by case basis with your veterinarian & tailored to your pets’ needs. Rabies is mandatory because there is NO TREATMENT for Rabies in humans or pets & it only takes 1 time of your pet sneaking out & getting bitten by an unknown animal for this to be realized. Also, if your unvaccinated pet bites someone, even if ONLY indoor (bats have transmitted Rabies to indoor pets) the penalty is euthanasia & testing OR you paying for a 6 month quarantine. We are not trying to “just make money,” we are public health stewards & I personally take that responsibilty VERY seriously!

  3. AHH…..the vaccination questions……

    I am a certified Veterinary Technician of 12yrs. To answer the question to mom to 4 indoor cats the answer is its state law that requires all animals to be vaccinated for rabies every 3yrs, if your vet uses the 3 yrs vaccine which most animal hospitals do. The reason for this is to keep everyone safe including yourself and family. I know your cats are indoors but what if a bat comes in and your cats kill it? It has happened more times than you think. Then they have come into contact with an animal that may have rabies and now they are at risk for the virus as well as everyone in your household. Even declawed cats can kill little creatures with out a problem. The rabies vaccine is not a money maker, its a saftey precaution and the law. As for the other vaccines well I personally only vaccinate my cats for rabies and nothing else. They too are indoors only. But I am not willing to take the risk of them not being protected against rabies. I could go on about all the other vaccines but I think I would run out of room and bore you with all the medical information. Bottom line, talk to your vet, we have no problem only doing rabies vaccines on indoor cats and no other vaccines. We dont vaccinate any cats for feline leukemia because there is so much controversy about it and to the DVM its not worth the risk. You may be able to find out more information about this on the Cornell website. They have been doing studies on this for a while.
    I do believe that a lot of vets do over vaccinate these days(both dogs and cats) espeacially with all the new data out about vaccines and those vets are in it for the money, because it is a money maker. A lot of vets I think are starting to realize(hopefully) that you can over vaccinate and vaccinations should be given to animals on a case to case basis. Not all animals should be treated the same.
    I hope this has helped you and others as well.

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