I can’t believe it is already September – the summer has literally flown by. As we round the corner to fall and get back into school routines I wanted to remind everybody about the importance of routine vaccinations.

Vaccinating routinely doesn’t necessarily mean that your pet gets all of the vaccines every single year. Different vaccines have different lifespans and many vaccines protect against a variety of diseases with one single injection. For dogs, the core vaccine includes Distemper, Parvovirus and Adenovirus. For cats, the core vaccine includes Panleukopenia virus, Herpes virus and Calici virus. Rabies vaccinations are mandatory in Ontario and so this is something that we must ensure is always up-to-date. People often take the rabies vaccine for granted but I cannot begin to stress the importance of this inexpensive and simple to give injection. Rabies is a preventable disease that still kills 55,000 people worldwide annually. The fact that a person dies approximately every 10 minutes somewhere in the world of rabies is unthinkable to us as Canadians. We have done an exceptional job over the years of vaccinating our pets, enabling us to all but eradicate the disease in our pet population in Canada. That said, there is still a risk of rabies that comes from our wildlife population. In Ontario, the Public Health Unit requires a mandatory quarantine, and possible euthanasia, of any pet who bites a person, or gets bitten by a wild animal, while not up-to-date with their rabies vaccine. This means that by simply getting off schedule or postponing your pets’ vaccines, you put them at great risk should something unpredictable occur.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has created vaccination guidelines that enable us to provide effective customized coverage for your pet by focusing on three main areas: age, lifestyle and geography/exposure. Younger pets require boosters just like human babies do, in order to maximize their level of immunity. Adult pets require regular vaccinations and with seniors we may cut back and or spread out vaccinations based on their health. An example of lifestyle would be whether or not your cat goes outside, as the dangers and risks are quite different when in “the great outdoors.” Exposure is all about whether your pet increases their risk for certain diseases by going into areas where these diseases are endemic. For example, bordetella and leptospirosis vaccines are recommended based on your pets contact with risk factors for these diseases.

While vaccinating our pets, just like in human medicine, has enabled us to minimize some very dangerous and sometimes fatal, diseases, the annual exam that we perform is of equal importance for your pets’ health. Because they cannot tell us when something is wrong (and in the case of cats, will actually try to hide it when there is something wrong), it is in their best interest for an experienced and knowledgeable veterinarian to examine them closely and make sure that they are healthy.

At Westway Animal Clinic we pride ourselves on our due diligence with respect to annual health exams and vaccinations. We do not ever want to over-vaccinate an animal and yet, we take vaccinations very seriously and will work closely with you to customize a plan that will keep your pet safe and healthy for many years to come.

Take the time to ask us if you have any questions with respect to what your pet needs. We look forward to helping you be the best pet owner you can be.