The holiday season can be a time many pets receive vaccinations in anticipation of boarding both for their protection and the protection of the other pets in the facility.
Ideally, pets should have received their vaccinations at least two weeks prior to boarding for best immunity. For pets that may have experienced some type of vaccine reaction in the past, it is even more important to plan ahead to minimize or treat any potential reaction before arriving at the kennel.
Fortunately, vaccine reactions are uncommon and usually result in minor problems when they occur, such as lethargy or tenderness at the vaccine site for 24 hours or less.
For pets that have more serious reactions, steps should be taken to minimize or eliminate the potential for harm, especially if they will be spending a few days with caretakers that may not know them very well. Here are some precautions and advice to consider for pets and especially those at risk:
1. Only healthy pets without a fever should receive vaccines. Your veterinarian should perform a physical exam before your pet receives a vaccination to make sure health issues won’t be exacerbated by a vaccine and that your pet can respond to the vaccine in a positive, protective way.
2. If your pet has a history of vaccine reactions, anti-inflammatory drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) or antihistamines given before the injections can minimize the chance of a reaction.
3. After any vaccine, it is a good idea to watch your pet for problems. Most reactions occur within a few hours of a vaccine, although some localized discomfort can last a few days. Don’t let your pet crawl under the couch and be out of sight all day.
4. Make sure the benefits outweigh the risks for any vaccine; some pets may not need certain vaccines due to their lifestyle. Some vaccines are now only given every three years, reducing the frequency of their administration.
For pets with an immune deficiency, or at the request of their owners, a blood titer can be drawn to measure a pet's present protection to a particular disease and may be able to avoid a vaccine altogether. For pets vacationing at a boarding facility or planning to be around lots of other dogs, canine cough or influenza vaccine (in some areas) should be required.
Check with your veterinarian for more recommendations before you take your pet in, and try to plan ahead as far as possible to have your pet ready to spend time with others.
Questions? Send them to Dr. Sandeman, Home & Garden, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801. Or, email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Sandeman cannot answer letters or email personally, but questions of general interest will be answered in this column.