The holiday season is almost here, and we’ve noticed a definite drop in the number of pet parents who bring their companion animals for shots. This may be due to clients wanting to save money for Christmas, but it’s not the most practical way to do so because it can end up costing you so much more in the long term. Here are the type of shots Dr. Issam Kadri says you shouldn’t neglect, for any reason:
Rabies Pet Vaccinations
While rabies is fairly well-controlled in Ontario and cases are rare in the GTA, if you’re going out to cottage country you know just how prevalent raccoons, skunks, bats and other wildlife are during the winter and many of them carry the disease. When a dog or cat does contract rabies, there’s often little that can be done to save the animal and if you or a child is bitten the treatment is fairly unpleasant.
This rabies shots are only necessary every three years, it’s vital that you keep your pet’s vaccination up to date. If you’re planning to take a vacation during the holidays and want to leave your dog or cat at a boarding facility, or even just a daycare now and then, you’ll need to produce evidence that the pet’s rabies shots are up to date. Groomers and pet sitters usually want to see certificates, and if there’s any chance your regular person is unavailable over Christmas, stand-in and relief people may also ask for reassurance.
Veterinarians across the GTA see far more cases of distemper than of rabies, so this is a vaccination that you really should ensure your pet has regularly. It’s also carried mainly by wildlife and is a contagious illness that has no known cure. It spreads through the air as well as by contact with an infected animal’s saliva, and can kill your pet within two to five weeks. Pets that have lower immune systems, such as young and old animals, are affected faster and the only way to treat it is by treating the symptoms and preventing secondary infections. All this is seriously expensive and unpleasant for both you and your pet, and it’s entirely preventable by a low-cost vaccination.
This terrible illness is on the rise, and Dr. Kadri has diagnosed five cases in the past two years among dogs that are walked in ravines and drink from water such as rivers and creeks. Cats are immune to the disease, which is spread by raccoons and other infected animals through urine-contaminated water. The bacterial infection causes liver and kidney damage in dogs, and although antibiotics can be given to kill the bacteria, it’s the damage that results in long-term health problems. It’s also contagious for your family, and your child can contract it from being licked by the dog long before you’re aware the dog is ill.
Both cats and dogs can contract this respiratory illness, commonly known as “kennel cough.” Very few boarding facilities in the GTA will accept your pet without proof of a recent Bordetella vaccination, which is a simple process of squirting a couple of drops of vaccine into the pet’s nasal passages. This is like the common cold for pets, but it can have a long-lasting impact on health. The vaccine needs to be repeated roughly twice a year to remain effective.
General Wellness Check-Up
One major benefit of having your pet vaccinated annually (and rabies every three years) is that the veterinarian gets the chance to see the pet and do a general examination at the same time. Often, this is the first indication that something may be starting to go wrong, and it’s an ideal opportunity to identify any health issues before they end up costing you money.
Don’t neglect your pets’ shots; this Christmas, give yourself the gift of knowing your beloved dog or cat is safely protected against the most common illnesses, and the peace of mind that you don’t need to plan for unexpected health care costs in the near future. You don’t need to get them all. Evaluate which of these diseases presents a risk to your pet, and make sure you update that particular vaccination. Dr. Kadri can also help you to identify what vaccines you really need, so you don’t over-vaccinate your pet.