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Pet vaccines: What you need to know about vaccinating your pet


vaccinate your exotic pets

Since the pandemic hit us in 2020, vaccinations have been on everyone’s mind. But for pets and humans alike, vaccines are not just about COVID. Quite simply, vaccines represent the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from countless diseases. As a part of your family, your pets deserve the same level of protection. In this blog, our veterinarians detail which species need vaccinations and review some of the most important ones to give your pet rabbits, birds and more.


Find out everything you need to know about pet vaccinations.


Why should I vaccinate my pets?

There are several important reasons to vaccinate your pet:

  • Some states legally require that pets receive certain vaccinations.

  • Vaccinations are the best way to protect your pets from a range of potentially life-threatening illnesses that can also be expensive to treat.

  • Vaccines help limit the spread of diseases that can pass among animals and sometimes to humans as well.

It is common for pet vaccinations to come with mild side effects for a day or two, but long-term health concerns are extremely rare, and the benefits of getting your pets vaccinated almost always outweigh the risks.


If you have concerns or questions, consult with your veterinarian. They’ll be happy to help. Also remember that, as with humans, it’s important to follow the dose schedule set by your vet to prevent any gap periods of immunity.


Do exotic pets need vaccines?


For some pets, yes, although there are many exotics such as reptiles that do not need vaccines. Because exotic pets are prone to different diseases than cats and dogs, they require different vaccinations to ensure immunity.


Recommended Vaccines for Exotic Pets

Here’s a breakdown by species of the vaccines we recommend:


Reptiles - Reptiles are one of the few pets that are exempt from the automatic necessity of vaccination. Regular checkups with your exotic pet vet are the key to health and longevity because they allow your veterinarian to catch and treat medical problems early on.


Rabbits - Pet rabbits require vaccination to protect against some particularly dangerous diseases. Myxomatosis, though primarily found only in South America and Europe, often kills rabbits within 10-14 days of infection and can be identified by unsightly swelling around the head and face. Vaccination against Myxomatosis does not prevent all transmission of the disease but dramatically reduces its impact, making survival far more likely.


Rabbits are also targets for RHDV2, also known as the rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus. Having spread quickly through the U.S. beginning in early 2020, it is common for infected rabbits to die suddenly within 12-36 hours of infection without having shown any symptoms. While these viruses don’t affect humans, they can transmit to other rabbits, making vaccination essential.


Read more about the RHDV2 vaccine.


Guinea pigs - If you got one or more of these furry friends because they’re easy to take care of, in terms of vaccinations at least, you chose wisely. Guinea pigs do not require any vaccinations!


Birds - While there are a few vaccines available for birds, the most common one is against Polyoma, a virus that kills infant birds and a significant percentage of adults as well. Polyoma is particularly prevalent among parrots and budgies, but can also infect canaries and finches. Treatment is often slow and ineffective, which makes vaccinating your bird the safest choice in preventative care.


Vaccination is not the right choice for every pet, but in many cases, a quick, inexpensive jab will be the key to helping ensure that your pet lives a long, healthy life.


Exotic pets sitting on chairs

Have any questions or concerns about vaccinating your pet?

Contact us and let us know how we can help.



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