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Vaccinations in Shelter Animals 

  • January 15, 2024
  • 5 min read
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Vaccinations in Shelter Animals 

In both humans and pets alike, vaccinations are extremely important. When animals like dogs and cats are given the appropriate vaccines at the right time in their lifecycle, they are afforded protection against diseases that can cause a range of different issues.

This is particularly important when you consider that pets can pick up these diseases across a range of different scenarios. Whether playing in the park with other animals or sniffing underneath a tree while on a walk, unvaccinated pets can pick up certain diseases.

With symptoms ranging from diarrhoea and nausea to organ damage and in extreme cases, death, vaccinations can provide owners with peace of mind and pets with an added layer of protection. 

Importance of pet vaccinations 

Whether your pet is young, middle aged or old, the importance of vaccinations never waivers. This is exactly why shelters and other rescue centres have vaccination policies in place. Otherwise, animals may suffer from diseases that were in fact, preventable. 

Since the pandemic there have been instances where individuals have debated vaccinating themselves and also their dogs against any number of diseases. However, it’s important to note that vaccinations are a cornerstone of animal care. 

Vaccinating your pet means that they are protected against preventable diseases. It also means that they are protected from transmissible diseases should they be headed to a boarding facility over the holidays. 

For owners, it is also worth noting that vaccinating a pet against certain diseases is actually more cost effective than paying for treatment should your pet suffer from a disease that vaccines can actually prevent. 

Diseases animals can suffer from 

For dogs, vaccinations offer protection against diseases ranging from distemper and infectious hepatitis to parvovirus and canine cough. 

With distemper, dogs might be subjected to bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea. In more serious cases, spasms and progressive paralysis will occur. In these more serious cases, there is a potential for the dog to suffer from permanent brain damage and death. 

In terms of infectious hepatitis, dogs can suffer from a number of symptoms. Think fever and depression, loss of appetite and diarrhoea. Tonsillitis and abdominal pain are also possible.

With parvovirus, this disease works to attack the dog’s gastrointestinal tract. As a result, this can induce death. Contracting this virus is as simple as your dog coming into contact with contaminated faeces or soil. 

Another disease that vaccinations can offer protection against is that of canine cough. Characterised by harsh and incessant coughing, this disease can also induce gagging. 

For cats, owners should look out for diseases such as cat flu, feline enteritis and feline immunodeficiency virus which is also known as feline AIDS.

With cat flu, cats and kittens will experience symptoms such as sneezing, nasal discharge, fever and even a loss of appetite. In some cases, cat flu can be fatal. In other cases, a cat may recover but they will always be left with some sort of damage from the disease. 

With feline enteritis, common symptoms can include severe vomiting and, more often than not, blood in their stool. 

In terms of feline immunodeficiency virus, there is no cure for such a disease. Rather, cats will need care for the rest of their life. Contracting this disease is often the result of open wounds caused by a cat fight. 

Vaccinations for cats and dogs  

In terms of the above diseases, there are vaccinations that can be administered to cats and dogs. In regards to both animal species, there are vaccinations referred to by vets as core and non-core.

With dogs, the core vaccinations are canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus and canine parvovirus. The non core vaccinations are parainfluenza virus, bordetella bronchiseptica and  leptospira interrogans. 

For cats, the core vaccinations are feline parvovirus, feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus. In terms of non core vaccinations, the recommendations are feline leukaemia virus, chlamydia felis and feline immunodeficiency virus. 

With the different core and non core vaccinations, not every cat or dog will be put on the same vaccination schedule. This is because veterinarians assess animals on a case by case basis. This means that factors pertaining to age, weight and lifestyle will play a role. 

This personalised vaccination schedule will also dictate the frequency with which vaccinations are needed. As such, all of these different factors combine to provide your pet with the vaccinations that will provide the best layer of protection.   

Vaccinating your pet  

With vaccinations proving to be one of the cornerstones of pet care, responsibility lies with owners to make sure that their pets are properly protected. By taking the time to consult with professionals, better care is provided to animals.

On one hand, this helps them to lead a happy and healthy life. On the other hand, it gives owners peace of mind when their pet is out and about in the park or on a walk that they are protected should they come into contact with unwanted bacteria and the like. 

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