Why does my indoor pet need vaccinations? 

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by Dr. Lance Weidenbaum

Clients frequently ask us if their indoor dog or cat really needs vaccinations. The answer can be different for each household, so I'll explain some of the concerns we consider when we evaluate your pet. Vaccines are designed to prevent some of the worst diseases your pet can be exposed to, saving your pet's life, the lives of other animals, and possibly your life. 

Even indoor pets are exposed to diseases: Many people believe their indoor pets will not be exposed to any diseases, but this is a misconception. Your pet may need to be boarded or come in to the hospital for treatment. Your indoor pet can be exposed to disease when:

  • It goes outside for walks, or gets out by accident
  • Your pet is boarded, goes to the groomer, dog park, pet store or anywhere it is exposed to other animals
  • When friends bring their pets over for a visit, or you visit them
  • Mosquitoes, insects, or wildlife get into your home
  • You pet someone's dog or cat and carry a virus or bacteria into the home

Vaccinations are much less expensive than treating the disease: Treating your dog for parvo or your cat for feline leukemia will be costly, and these diseases are not only painful, your pet can die from them. Many people feel that vaccines are expensive, but the cost of treating a serious disease for weeks or months will always be much higher, and your pet may not survive. 

Some vaccines are required by law: To protect human and animal populations some vaccines are required by law, including the rabies vaccine. Rabies is almost always fatal to pets and humans if not treated immediately after exposure. It remains a serious health problem around the world, with the CDC reporting that over 55,000 people die of rabies every year. 99 percent of all human exposure to rabies is from dog bites. Rabies is not uncommon in South Florida, and any warm-blooded animal can be infected with rabies, although it is almost unknown in birds and opossums. 

Vaccination helps prevent the spread of contagious diseases: By vaccinating your pet, you help to reduce the opportunity for diseases to spread. It is part of responsible pet ownership to vaccinate your pets, not only to protect your pet, but to protect other peoples' pets. 

Do my indoor pets need all the same vaccines as pets who go outside? We evaluate every pet's individual needs to determine which vaccines are appropriate. An indoor pet may not need the same vaccines as, for example, a dog that goes to the dog park every week, so we'll work with you to evaluate what vaccines are needed.  

We're going on a trip to another state next month. Does my pet need any special treatment? If you are traveling with your pet or plan to spend time in the outdoors, please schedule a visit with us. Your pet will need travel papers, proof of rabies vaccine, and may need vaccines required by the state you're visiting. You will also want extra tick and flea protection. See our article on camping with your pet for more information. 

Call us with your questions! If you have more questions about vaccination for your indoor cat or dog, please call us.  We want to work with you so that your pet will live a long, happy and healthy life.

Photo credit: reader of the pack / Foter / CC BY-ND

Phone: 954-421-2244   Serving Deerfield Beach, Coconut Creek, and Boca Raton from our offices at Hillsboro Blvd and  Powerline Road in the Dunkin' Donuts plaza.    © Deer Run Animal Hospital 2017