Money is tight in today's economy, and many people are looking for ways to save money, especially when it comes to pet care. Annual vet visits and vaccinations can be costly, but they are important to your pet's health.
Several people have asked if they can purchase vaccines at the pet store and give them at home. This is strongly discouraged!
Vaccines must be stored and handled properly prior to being given. You do not know for sure that the vaccine you are about to give was stored properly before you bought it. You could be paying for and giving a vaccine that will not offer the protection you are expecting. Hence money is wasted and your pet may become ill.
You may also be giving your pet a vaccine it does not need-not every pet needs every vaccine that is out there.
Vaccines need to be given at certain intervals, especially kitten & puppy vaccines. If the vaccines are not given at the proper age and intervals, the pet may not receive proper immunity. Hence money is wasted and your pet may become ill.
All pets should have an exam prior to receiving vaccines. We want to be sure that your pet is healthy before receiving a vaccination. Vaccines work by asking the body's immune system to make antibodies against a specific disease. The body cannot do this if it is already sick. Exams prior to vaccines also allow the vet to check your pet all over, from nose to tail. We check eyes, ears, mouth/teeth/gums, skin & hair coat, and lymph nodes. We palpate (feel) the abdomen for abnormal organ shape and size or lumps. We also listen to the heart and lungs for any murmors or irregularities.
Finally, we unfortunately have seen pets come in sick after receiving vaccines from stores. The most common illness seen is parvovirus. The vaccine itself does not induce the virus, rather it simply did not give the puppy proper protection. So money was spent on a vaccine that did not protect the puppy.
It is recommended to only trust vaccines given by a veterinarian (this includes pets coming from breeders! Breeders should have their pets seen and vaccinated by a vet prior to selling them and should be able to promplty give you the records). It may cost more to get vaccines from your vet, but that money has paid for an exam, vaccines, and the knowledge that the vaccines were properly shipped, stored, handled, and given at the correct time to give your pet the best chances at immunity against disease.
All veterinarians know the financial challenges facing pet owners today. Please don't hesitate to mention to your vet that you are on a budget and ask for an estimate of what your pet needs. Discuss with your vet how you can work within your budget to keep your pet healthy. Your vet's main goal is the same as yours-to keep your pet healthy and happy.