For many years, pets have been vaccinated with a cookie-cutter approach. Everyone gets the same thing, every year. As we have evolved in veterinary medicine, however, we have come to learn that this mentality isn’t always the best one. No pet is exactly the same as the next.

We believe that it is very important to look at the individual patient and his or her unique needs before providing any kind of medical care. Union Lake Veterinary Hospital carries this approach to our vaccination protocols, utilizing case-based risk assessment for pet vaccination.

Why Not All Pets Need the Same Vaccines

As much as we don’t like to think about it, vaccines are not entirely without risk. While most adverse reactions from vaccines are few and far between, they do occur. Most are mild and self-limiting, but others can have serious consequences.

When we administer a vaccine, we want to be sure that the potential benefits of the vaccine outweigh the potential risks. This is why we don’t recommend administering every available vaccine to every pet. Likewise, this is why we recommend some vaccinations even though they may carry a small risk when administered. It is our goal to keep every pet as safe and healthy as possible. This is impossible to do without getting to know our individual patient.

Conducting Risk Assessment for Pet Vaccinations

When we administer vaccines to a pet, there are two important things that happen:

We must examine the pet – When we conduct a wellness examination on a patient who presents to us for vaccines, a few important things are happening. We are getting to know more about our patient and his or her owner (you). We are also looking to identify problems that may prevent our vaccines from working as they should, or those that may increase the risk of an adverse vaccination event. This is why we don’t believe in vaccinating pets without a wellness exam. Without one, we may inadvertently be putting your pet in harm’s way.

We must conduct a risk assessment for pet vaccinations – We cannot make an accurate assessment as to what vaccines are most appropriate for an individual pet without doing some detective work. Factors such as species, breed, and age are important. We also need to know about your pet’s lifestyle, environment, recreational and travel habits, and health history. All of this information can help us to decide what vaccinations we should administer.

Some vaccines are considered core vaccines, meaning almost every animal should receive them. These include rabies and the distemper combination vaccines. Others, such as kennel cough, Lyme disease, leptospirosis, and feline leukemia, are administered on an as-needed basis depending on the pet’s risk level.

One size fits all medicine may work in some cases, but certainly not all. We don’t believe in taking risks with your furry family. Union Lake Veterinary Hospital practices individualized medicine to help keep all of our patients as healthy as possible.