For the love of you pet: Are pet vaccinations necessary?

By John Beck
July 18, 2013 at 2:18 a.m.

I religiously take my cat to see the vet every year. The doctor always looks her over from top to bottom and gives her some vaccinations. I have never really asked what all the vaccines are for, how often they are to be given, etc. My neighbor never takes her cat to the vet and says she is healthy and never had any problems. I feel like maybe I'm wasting my money. What do you think?

This can be a very tricky question you have posed. I do not think that by having an annual exam and vaccinations performed on your cat that you are wasting money.

But there are a few things that everyone should keep in mind when following a preventative health plan. There has been a recent emergence of studies that are supporting preventative health for your pets.

A lot of people, like your neighbor, figure that the chance of their cat catching a disease is slim to none. Most also believe that by not having their pet vaccinated, they can save that money, and if their pet does ever become sick, they will spend about the same amount on getting them well as they would have spent on vaccinations over the years.

The problem with that logic is these diseases have no current cure, and the cost to keep your pet comfortable or at his/her best is way more expensive than vaccinating. At our current price, you could vaccinate your cat for nine to 12 years for the price of a three-day intense hospital stay.

If you are concerned about the cost of preventative health, make sure you ask questions. Discuss your cat's lifestyle with your veterinarian.

Find out what vaccines are really necessary. If you have a one-cat household or your cat only stays inside, there may be some vaccines that can be eliminated from the protocol.

If your cat is on a monthly all-in-one flea and heartworm preventative, your cat might not need worming medication because most of these have de-worming properties.

Some vaccines can also be given every other year or every third year depending on the pet's amount of possible exposure. On the other hand, if your pet is in a chronic, high-exposure area, the vaccine might need to be repeated every six months to build proper protection.

It is important to continue to have your pets vaccinated. When large populations of pets are vaccinated, the ability to transmit those diseases is inhibited.

If more and more people begin declining vaccines, this leaves the door wide open for these diseases to return. Many diseases have been very close to or completely eradicated in people through the power of vaccinations.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at



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