King County advises keeping pets’ shots up to date

July 19, 2011

By Staff

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a saying that applies to the health of your pets as much as it applies to you, according to the Regional Animal Services of King County.

Routine immunizations are important to the life and health of your furry friends.

“Vaccines are one of the wonders of modern medicine,” said Sue Moriyasu, veterinary medical director at Regional Animal Services. “Just as in humans, initial immunizations and boosters are vital to ensuring that your pet lives a long, healthy and happy life.”

The list of vaccine-preventable animal diseases is long, county officials said, but they reported that two illnesses seem to be making their way through the county: panleukopenia, or feline distemper, and parvovirus in dogs. The closely related viruses spread easily, are resistant to most disinfectants and can live on contaminated surfaces for years. Illnesses caused by the viruses often are fatal to kittens or puppies.

Symptoms of both illnesses may include diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite and lethargy.

“Even with aggressive treatment, up to 90 percent of kittens and cats infected with panleukopenia die,” Moriyasu said. “Parvo can be treated more successfully if caught early, but treatment is expensive and not guaranteed. That is why it is to important to get your new kitten or puppy vaccinated immediately and to be sure to go back to your veterinarian for boosters.”

Moriyasu said the viruses never would be eliminated from our environment, making the best treatment easily available and highly effective vaccinations.

“And just because your cat or dog lives inside does not mean they are not vulnerable to vaccine-preventable illnesses,” Moriyasu added. “Being a responsible pet owner includes making sure your pet is protected against disease, and routine immunizations from your vet can help you do that.”

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