Those little metal pet rabies tags you attach to your dog or cat’s collar are much more than jingling baubles. Rather, they are shining insignia that represent one of humankind’s great victories over a centuries-old scourge.
The annals of recorded medical history are dotted with numerous spectacularly terrifying diseases and pandemics. Some of the most notable include:
- The Antonine Plague of 165 A.D., which killed some 5 million people and decimated the Roman army. It is believed to have been a smallpox or measles epidemic, brought back to Italy by soldiers returning from Mesopotamia.
- Bubonic Plague—better known as the Black Death of the Middle Ages—a deadly bacterial infection, spread by fleas and rats, that ravaged three continents and took an estimated 200 million lives.
- The Flu Pandemic of 1918, which was a perversely lethal strain of influenza that tore across the globe and struck down an estimated 50 million otherwise healthy, robust young adults.
- HIV/AIDS, which has racked up a combined death toll of 36 million worldwide since it appeared on the scene in 1981.
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Vaccinations play a major role in protecting your pet’s health. Because some illnesses can be transferred to humans, vaccines can protect you too! The most common vaccines used today are for rabies, distemper and hepatitis. Vaccinating your pet is one of the easiest ways to help him or her live a long, healthy life.
What are vaccines?
Vaccines can help your pet’s immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which look like a disease-causing organism to the immune system, however they don’t actually cause disease. When a vaccine is introduced to your pet’s body, their immune system becomes activated. Then, if your pet is ever exposed to the real disease, his or her immune system will recognize the disease and fight it off entirely or at least minimize the severity of the illness.
Types of vaccinations
There are several types of vaccines recommended for all pets. While vaccines differ slightly for dogs and cats, the end result is protection from illness. The first type are core vaccines. These vaccines are generally recommended for all pets and protect against potentially fatal diseases. The second type are non-core vaccines, which are given depending on your pet’s age, lifestyle and the geographic area in which you live. Some veterinarians will recommend yearly vaccinations. Work with your veterinarian to determine an immunization program that fits your pet’s needs, risks and lifestyle.
Health risks for your pet
The most common reason people choose to not vaccinate their pet is because they worry about the potential side effects. Like any medical procedure, vaccinations do have some risk. However, the risk is often much greater if you do not vaccinate your pet at all. Reactions to vaccinations are rare and generally include pain or swelling at the point of injection. If you have any questions about vaccinating your pet, please talk with your veterinarian. They will always have your pet’s best interest in mind.
Vaccinations have become second nature for pets today, as they can effectively prevent against life threatening diseases. Not only can vaccinations protect your pet’s health, but also the health of your entire family. While there are some risks to vaccinating your pet, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!