Written by Nicole Plegge
Metro East Humane Society believes all pet parents should have basic medical care for their furry friends. But sometimes, that care can be more than what many can afford, causing some pet owners to make sacrifices of their own to ensure their cats and dogs receive the vaccines they need.
With support from Purina, MEHS’ Healthy Pets, Happy Pets low-cost Vaccine and Microchip Clinics are giving anyone facing financial constraints the chance to get their pets immunized for rabies, distemper and Bordetella for just a few dollars.
MEHS’ staff veterinarian, Dr. Kathryn Kettenbach, shares why these clinics are so important and how you can take advantage of them for your own pets.
Overall, how do these clinics help pets and pet owners?
The clinics are important for two main reasons. First, a rabies vaccine is required by law. Rabies is deadly for animals, and it’s deadly for people, so that’s why it’s legally required.
Second, the other diseases we vaccinate for aren’t common, but they are very serious, and very, very expensive to treat, if they can even be treated at all. The best way to keep your animal safe is to get them vaccinated to prevent diseases from happening in the first place. Preventing them is cheap, it’s easy and it can save a pet’s life, not to mention the hundreds of dollars it takes to treat the disease.
Most people understand the need for rabies vaccinations, but why are distemper and Bordetella immunizations necessary?
Bordetella is kennel cough, but the vaccine doesn’t offer 100% protection against the disease. It’s similar to the flu vaccine in people—it can decrease how serious the symptoms are and it can lower the risk of contracting it. The vaccine is ideal for dogs in high-risk situations, like those who go to the dog park, the groomer’s or a boarding facility.
What we call the distemper vaccine is actually a combination of vaccines. The two main diseases it prevents are distemper and parvo. Distemper is carried by wildlife—coyotes, raccoons, rodents. It’s initially a respiratory disease, but it can develop into a neurological disease that can be deadly. Parvo virus is transmitted in a similar way, but it causes vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss. Most dogs with parvo can be saved, although it’s a very expensive and very lengthy treatment.
Why do pets have to be vaccinated every year? Aren’t these the immunizations they received as puppies and kittens?
The important part to remember is it’s just like vaccines for people. With most vaccines you don’t have to get a booster every year, but even when you have a good immune system, it has to be reminded of what it’s protecting the body from. The way you remind them is with a vaccine.
Do pets receive a healthcare exam while at a clinic?
Pet owners should keep in mind that we’re making sure the animal is healthy enough to receive vaccines, but we’re not doing a full exam. A full exam and other preventive care are things you should do with a full-service vet. It’s best to get an exam every year and to have a relationship with a vet so they know your animal’s history and can help you stay on top of things like heartworm prevention, flea prevention or ear problems. It’s so important to have that long-term relationship—but we do provide a way for people who can’t afford vaccines through the traditional route an option they can afford.
MEHS also offers low-cost microchipping at our clinics. How does this benefit pets?
Another thing pet owners can do to help their pets live their healthiest life is to get them microchipped. For cats that get lost and get picked up as strays, studies show there’s only a two percent chance they’ll get back to their owners.
Having your pet microchipped and registered is so critical because it makes it so much more likely they’ll return home to you if they run off. It’s obviously important to your pet and your family, but it’s also important to all the other animals that can be saved because that’s one more pet that got home.
For more information on MEHS’ Healthy Pets, Happy Pets Vaccine and Microchip clinics presented by Purina or to see a full list of upcoming events, visit www.mehs.org/vaccine-and-microchip-clinic.