The doctors at Neffsville Veterinary Clinic, guided by the recommendations of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) vaccination guidelines, have selected vaccine types, booster intervals, and protocols to ensure the health and safety of your pets. These guidelines however are not immutable, rather each patient is evaluated individually and in some cases the accepted guidelines may not be what is best for your own pet. In other cases the label put on the vaccine by the manufacture may differ from what we are recommending, especially with regard to booster intervals. Any recommendation differing from the vaccine’s label claim is based on these AAHA guidelines which have been developed by a “task force of experts in immunology, infectious disease, internal medicine, law, and clinical practice”. This blog will introduce you to vaccine types and intervals, serologic testing in lieu of vaccination, adverse events, and legal considerations.
Broadly vaccines can be broken down into two main types: noninfectious and infectious. Noninfectious vaccines are also known as killed, inactivated, or dead. When administered a noninfectious vaccine (as implied) does not infect the host cells. Instead, enough antigen must be present, or an adjuvant added to stimulate the immune response. These noninfectious vaccines are in general safer because the immunizing agent (virus or bacteria) is dead and is not capable of causing infection of its own. Hypersensitivity, or stinging on injection, is more common with these vaccines.
Noninfectious vaccines are available in “multiple dose vials”, meaning many vaccines from one bottle. However, NVC does not use these do to a significantly higher risk of contamination due to multiple needle punctures of the lid. At NVC, only single dose vaccine vials are used for safety reasons, consistent with the recommendations of AAHA.
Noninfectious vaccines are administered in two doses. The first dose primes the immune response, and a second dose 3-4 weeks later, provides a long lasting protective response. The exception is rabies vaccine, which requires only one dose administered between 12-16 weeks of age, consistent with Pennsylvania State law. Onset of “full immunity” with noninfectious vaccines generally takes a little longer than infectious vaccines. During the initial vaccine and booster immunity can be expected within 3 weeks. At subsequent annual (or 2 or 3 year) revaccinations the immune response is rapid and robust, taking only hours to days to achieve full protection.
Infectious vaccines, on the other hand, must infect cells of the patient to sufficiently stimulate an immune response. These vaccines are also known as attenuated, avirulent, or modified live vaccines. In order to ensure safety the vaccine organism (ie. distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus) is rendered incapable of causing disease by one of several methods that is far beyond the scope of this blog. These vaccines stimulate a more effective immune response because they result in all the different types of immunity (local, cell-mediated, and antibody production) that a naturally occurring infection would. Because of this robust response a single dose administered to a pet greater than 16 weeks of age is considered to be effective. Onset of immunity is within 7 days of vaccination. Duration of immunity, or length of time that vaccination protects the pet, is longer for infectious vaccines, often necessitating revaccination as infrequently as every three years.
Vaccination of puppies and kittens, as you may have realized, is handled differently than what I have listed above. This is due to the presence of maternally derived antibody (MDA). MDA is obtained by a puppy or kitten through nursing (ingestion of colostrum). MDA protects puppies and kittens from many diseases in the first 8 weeks of life, from thereafter the amount of MDA drops, leaving the newborn susceptible to infection. Vaccination begins at 6-8 weeks as the MDA is expected to be falling. Because vaccine efficacy is decreased in the presence of MDA it is important to revaccinate your pets every 3-4 weeks through 16 weeks of age (exception: rabies vaccine). In this way as protection from MDA declines and eventually disappears, the vaccine-derived protection takes over.
Serology, or blood testing, can be done in select cases in lieu of vaccination. These tests measure the amount of antibody for a specific vaccine that remains in an individual pet’s system. According to AAHA vaccination guidelines serology for distemper, parvo, adeno, and rabies virus are useful and acceptable in establishing response to vaccination and duration of immunity. Perhaps, its most appropriate use is in ensuring appropriate puppy vaccination (no MDA interference) and in animals with immune-mediated disease. A medical exemption from rabies vaccination is allowable under new PA state law (PA Senate Bill 155), a veterinarian must sign off. Rabies serology is NOT recommended in lieu of vaccination nor should it be interpreted as providing proof of current vaccination.
Vaccine adverse events are rarely serious, but owners should be warned to observe for: decreased appetite, pain at injection site, lethargy, vomiting, or swelling of the skin or face. In most cases the histaminic response responsible for the signs can be quickly reversed. You should monitor your pet closely (ie. be in the same room) in the hours after vaccination, and report any changes noticed over the next 2-3 days. If your pet has an AE, steps can be taken to minimize and virtually eliminate the chance of an AE at future vaccinations.
As you may now realize, appropriate vaccination series depends on a combination of the host (your pet, presence of MDA, current illness), agent (infectious or noninfectious, parvo, rabies, etc), and environment (previous AE’s, owner concerns, state laws).
Diabetes mellitus is a common, but treatable, condition in dogs and cats. It is most often seen in older patients with symptoms that include rapid weight loss, increased appetite, and increased thirst and urination. Your veterinarian will do a thorough physical examination and recommend blood work to confirm the diagnosis. High blood sugars in the face of glucose (sugar) in the urine are the typical findings, and checking for urinary tract infections or kidney disease will help make sure there are no complicating factors for insulin therapy. Diabetes is best treated with injections of insulin and a prescription diet to stabilize blood sugars during the day. Giving insulin injections to our pets is not as bad as you might think-the needle is much smaller than the ones we use for vaccines! Your veterinarian will show you how to properly administer insulin, where to give the injection, and what to do if the pet seems hypoglycemic (blood sugars too low) so that you feel comfortable with your diabetic pet. It is important to remember that it can take a few weeks to find the right dose of insulin for the patient, and that periodic blood glucose checks or curves may be needed. Managing a diabetic pet is a big commitment, and close communication between you and your veterinarian is the key to a happy and healthy pet!
• Animal rescue teams
• Emergency response teams
• Education as teachers
• Humane societies
• Large animal health
• Animal research
• Veterinary supply sales
• Laboratory technician
• Dog trainer
• veterinarian’s nurse
• laboratory technician
• radiography technician
• surgical assistant
• dental hygienist
• client educator
• hospital Manager
• emergency technician
In recent years, the profession of veterinary medicine has become ever more sophisticated and complex. The public expects state-of-the-art veterinary care for their pets. To provide high quality service, today’s veterinary team utilizes the skills of trained professionals known as veterinary technicians.
A veterinary technician is a member of the veterinary healthcare team that provides technical support to the veterinarian in all aspects of animal care. They are educated to be the veterinarian’s nurse, laboratory technician, radiography technician, anesthesiologist, surgical assistant, dental hygienist and client educator.
To become a veterinary technician, you must be the graduate of a 2-year associate degree or 4-year baccalaureate program from an American Veterinary Medical Association-accredited school. Most states also require technicians to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination to be considered credentialed. A period of clinical experience in a veterinary practice is required for all students.
• Veterinary Technician (Inpatient Nurse)
• Veterinary Assistant (Outpatient Nurse, Client Relations)
• Hospital Manager
• Kennel staff
Visit AAHA’s website at www.healthypet.com and visit their travel tab. From there you can get requirements and guide lines on traveling with your furry friend. The website also offers a trip planner tab which helps you create a checklist of items you should bring along with your pet while traveling. The website can also help you to find quality animal hospitals along the way and where you’re staying in case of emergency.
Moving To a New Area
You can visit AAHA’s website Healthypet.com and search for AAHA accredited hospitals by zip code and find all AAHA accredited hospitals in a mile radius of your choosing. By choosing an AAHA accredited hospital you’re providing the best quality care for your pet.
AAHA-accredited hospitals voluntarily choose to be evaluated on 900 standards in the following areas: quality of care; diagnostic & pharmacy; management; medical records; and facility in order to meet AAHA’s continually upgraded standards of care and professionalism.
The American Animal Hospital Association, “The Standard of Veterinary Excellence.” Established in 1933, AAHA is the only organization that accredits animal hospitals throughout the U.S. and Canada. AAHA-accredited hospitals voluntarily choose to be evaluated on 900 standards in the following areas: quality of care; diagnostic & pharmacy; management; medical records; and facility.
Only 15% of all veterinary hospitals across the United States earn this coveted accreditation. Since 1977 Neffsville Veterinary Clinic has continually earned accreditation by AAHA. We are regularly and voluntarily are evaluated in the areas of examination, dentistry, medical records, laboratory, radiology, pharmacy, anesthesiology, surgery and nursing care in order to meet AAHA’s continually upgraded standards of care and professionalism.
Learn more at healthypet.com
All human hospitals in the U.S. that serve people with Medicare are required by law to undergo regular accreditation checks to ensure they meet the standards for every aspect of medical care. The same is not true when it comes to veterinary hospitals and clinics, accreditation is voluntary. Only about 15% of veterinary hospitals in the United States are accredited! The AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) is the only organization that accredits veterinary hospitals in the United States. Practices are evaluated against more than 900 standards of care including: patient care, surgery, medical records, cleanliness, staff safety, leadership, and other areas.
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