Animal Health Week 2018

As many of you have recently heard, Labrador and Central Newfoundland are in the midst of a devastating Distemper outbreak. This news while quite tragic does highlight the importance of vaccinating our pets.

Next week marks over 30 years celebrating CVMA’s Animal Health Week. This year, we focus our attention on vaccines and their importance for our pet’s overall health and wellbeing. Today, we will be discussing the Five Reasons to Vaccinate, as outlined by CVMA’s Animal Health Week focus.

  1. Vaccinations are safe and effective – they prevent many illnesses. Many of us know about the canine parvovirus or the feline version (panleukopenia), which can be deadly when contracted. Unfortunately, we are experiencing the after effects first hand of what an unvaccinated population can lead to. The distemper virus (similar to parvovirus or panleukopenia) can easily be vaccinated against, however, treatment once infected is extremely difficult, and many cases lead to death. The vaccines we give your pet have undergone several safety studies and while we appreciate that some reactions occur, the benefits of vaccinating outweigh the normally minor reaction. Prior to giving a vaccine, we always ask our clients if their pet has ever had a reaction and we also educate our clients on the symptoms of a vaccine reaction, to act swiftly to minimize any discomfort your pet may experience.
  2. Vaccinations protect everyone – they prevent diseases that can be passed, not only from animal to animal but also from animal to human. The rabies vaccine is highly recommended as they can be transmitted to all mammals. Many boarding and grooming kennels require them before caring for your pet. While we do not have an overly large rabies presence in Newfoundland, it is still important to keep your pet up to date, as the risk of transmission from any local wildlife is still present.
  3. Vaccinations are an important part of annual health exams. When your pet is puppy/kitten, your veterinarian will discuss the general vaccine schedule. Once your pet has had their first adult vaccines, we tend to switch to vaccinating every three years. We also provide vaccine titres, which we can do yearly to test for current immunity instead of vaccinating. We always recommend an annual checkup for younger pets, and a bi-annual checkup for senior regardless of whether they need any vaccines. Regular examinations can detect any illnesses early and allow us to assist you with caring for your pet proactively.
  4. Vaccinations are tailored to each animal based on its breed, age, overall health, and disease exposure risk. While we have a general protocol for vaccinations, we also separate frequency and types of vaccine, based on exposure risk and overall health. Your pet is unique, and their care should reflect that! We will discuss the best options based on your pet’s lifestyle. Some vaccines we consider to be core, i.e. every pet should have them regardless of lifestyle, wherever possible. But we also have non-core vaccines such as Canine bordetella vaccine that should be lifestyle and exposure risk specific. For example, if you plan on enrolling your dog in classes or visiting the groomer, we always recommend having the bordetella vaccine.
  5. Vaccinations can help avoid costly treatments for diseases that can be prevented. Some of the diseases that we vaccinate against such as Distemper or Parvovirus or Panleukopenia can be extremely hard on your pet, and many do not survive, despite early and aggressive treatment. Other diseases may not be as severe but still, require costly treatment. The kennel cough or Bordetella disease can range in symptoms from moderate (like a cold) to severe that requires hospitalization and supportive care. Unfortunately, treatment can be costly if their symptoms are more severe. If you’re ever unsure about your pet’s risk of exposure, please let your veterinarian know during their examination. Your veterinarian will question you on your pet’s general lifestyle and determine the levels of risk.

While this post did tackle some serious topics about vaccinating, we do have some fun and exciting events happening during Animal Health Week! We will be hosting a bake sale on Wednesday, October 3, 2018; all donations will go towards our Opal Fund. We will also have a kid’s colouring contest that will run from Monday, October 1 until Saturday, October 6, 2018. Colouring pages can be picked up from the hospital as of Monday and submissions are accepted by dropping them off in person or emailing them to us at

Written by Marwa Al-Alawi, Social Media Coordinator