by Margaret-Ann Irving of Fur Fettish Farm
The Importance of inoculating your pets is almost as important as inoculating your children. I realize a lot of readers are not old enough to remember the Polio epidemic that devastated many families in the 40’s but one way to try to explain viruses to people is to use Polio as an example. We eradicated Polio with vaccinations, almost everyone raised in Canada will have a round scar on their upper arm from being lined up and inoculated as children. The only way we are going to eradicate some of the viruses that threaten our pets is to do the same thing, but we need to have everyone on board with this program and that is like trying to herd sheep, it is impossible to get them all going the same direction.
Fighting viruses that are invisible and spread by simply touching a surface that it is on, and then touching another surface, is like Superman fighting Krypton. Deadly viruses, such as Parvo, Distemper and Rabies, can live on a dry surface for up to a week, and on a wet surface for over a year. Weather conditions do little to deter them, freezing does not kill them, nor does hot weather. Our only defense is to have our pets inoculated against these viruses.
Rabies is the most deadly, so protecting our dogs with yearly inoculations is of utmost importance, especially farm dogs that are loose at night when an intruding wild animal, that may be infected, can wander into the yard. Many people do not realize that the dog, or cat, doesn’t actually need to be bitten by the animal carrying the virus, they can contact it simply by being exposed to the urine, feces or saliva of the infected animal. An infected animal can lick from a dish, then the uninfected, unprotected animal (such as the farm dog) can lick from the same dish and pick the virus up and then become infected and the cycle continues.
Next in line of deadly viruses is Parvo, young pups are especially at risk as they have no immunity against this virus once they quit nursing the mother (who only produces a strong immunity for her pups if she herself is inoculated). This virus can be spread simply by stepping in a spot where an infected animal has relieved itself, or left saliva on a surface, then it is carried to the next spot where it awaits a host….like a wood tick, only invisible. Not only to young dogs need to be given a series of boosters to ‘beef up’ their immune system, they need to be basically quarantined in a environment where they are not exposed to anywhere other dogs frequent until three weeks after their third booster. I advise people obtaining a new pup to keep it in their own yard and be especially vigilant about keeping their shoe soles clean and away from the area the pup is kept in until three weeks AFTER the third set of vaccinations. It is only common sense to wash your hands before (and after) handling your pet, for your safety and that of your pet.
Pet owners need to educate themselves on what inoculations their pet needs and be responsible enough to keep their pet protected. A pet depends on it’s master for food, dental care and health issues. We have some pretty awesome vets in our area, but they are not miracle workers, we have to get them involved before the pet is sick or infected. Neutering is just as important as inoculations but that is another story we will address in another issue.