What Happens if your Pet Misses a Vaccination?
Vaccinations remain the single most effective preventative measure that we have for keeping our animals healthy. Unfortunately, there are many infectious viruses and diseases which have the ability to make our pets extremely sick, and in some cases, they can even prove fatal. In fact, experts agree that over the years, vaccinations have saved the lives of countless animals around the world.
Pet vaccinations work in exactly the same way as human varieties. By modifying the disease so that it is safe, and introducing it to your animal’s body, it triggers the production of antibodies to fight it. This protection is ongoing until the vaccine loses effectiveness and the body no longer produces antibodies to fight it. It is at this point that another dose is required. The only exception to this is in very young animals who are receiving their first vaccination program. More on that to come.
The importance of a vaccination schedule
Vaccinations are usually carried out on a fairly rigid schedule as this is proven to offer animals the greatest degree of protection against the many infectious diseases that could make them unwell. Vaccinations are scheduled in at a time that your veterinarian is confident is before their current protection will run out. This means that there is an overlap that ensures ongoing preventative care without any periods of vulnerability.
Your pet’s vaccination schedule will vary depending on their age. When animals are first born, their vaccination schedule involves a series of vaccines all delivered fairly close together. This is because the animals are still so little that it isn’t safe for them to receive the full vaccine in one dose. Instead, they need to build up their immunity over a series of vaccinations spanning several months. Once your pet reaches adulthood, your vet will create a vaccination schedule based on their individual requirements.
My pet’s vaccination is a little overdue, what should I do?
There’s no getting around the fact that if your pet misses a vaccine dose, they could be vulnerable to catching a serious disease. There’s no way of knowing precisely how long an individual animal’s immunity may last, and while your pet could be protected a few weeks longer than the schedule allows, this may not be the case. As such, it comes as no surprise that the advice from veterinarians is that, if you realize that your pet is overdue a vaccination or booster, you should arrange to get this done as soon as possible and ideally within 2 weeks.
In the meantime, vets recommend that you try and minimize your pet’s contact with other animals as this could reduce their risk of contracting a disease. If you have a dog, you may wish to stick to one walking route and keep your canine pal on the leash to prevent them from mixing with other animals or putting their nose into something unpleasant. Meanwhile, if you have a cat, you may also want to consider keeping them indoors until their vaccination appointment, since it will be difficult for you to keep tabs on them when they are roaming outside.
If your pet’s vaccinations are extremely overdue
If too much time has elapsed between your pet’s vaccinations, it may be necessary to restart the vaccination course and establish a brand new schedule. Your vet will be able to advise you of the best course of action and you should do your very best to adhere to the new vaccination program.
For more advice on pet vaccinations, don’t hesitate to speak to our knowledgeable veterinary team.