“Why does my pet need to be vaccinated if he or she never goes outside?” It’s a common question among the owners of indoor-only pets asks veterinarians.
Although it may seem as though vaccinations for indoor pets are a waste of money, the reality is that being inside does not eliminate your pet’s exposure to infectious disease. Keeping your pet’s vaccinations current is an important part of his or her health care plan.
There’s Always a Risk
Vaccinations for indoor pets are important because, regardless of how careful you are with your pet, there’s always a risk of accidental exposure to a disease in the following ways:
- Wildlife entering your home – It’s not as uncommon as you might think for wildlife to find a way into your home. Bats and other wildlife (all carriers of rabies and other diseases) can slip in through very small spaces, and could bite your pet or you.
- Your pet could escape – Cats are notorious for slipping out of doors and windows that are accidentally left open by someone who lives in the home, a guest, or repair worker. It may be hours before you realize that your pet is missing, during which time he or she could have been exposed to any number of diseases. If your lost pet ended up in a shelter, the chance of exposure rises exponentially.
- Latent flare-ups – Pets can be exposed to certain illnesses, such as feline herpesvirus, as babies. Even if they show no signs of the disease, stress or certain health conditions that weaken the immune system can cause a flare-up later in life. Vaccinations can keep these potential illnesses under control.
- Changes in life circumstances – The nature of life is that it’s ever-changing. Divorce, death, or a move could all impact your cat’s potential exposure to disease, so it’s always best to make sure he or she is protected.
- It’s the law – Like most of the United States, Kentucky requires that all dogs, cats, and ferrets be vaccinated against rabies, regardless of whether they live indoors or not.
Core Vaccinations for Indoor Pets
A core vaccine is one that all dogs and cats to receive, with few exceptions. Core vaccines protect against diseases that can affect pets throughout their entire lives, including those that:
- Are highly contagious
- Are transmissible to humans
- Are serious or life-threatening to your pet
In cats, the feline distemper vaccine and rabies vaccine are considered core vaccines, and for dogs the core vaccines include rabies, parvovirus, distemper, adenovirus, and parainfluenza. Your veterinarian will work with you to come up with a plan regarding which non-core vaccines are suitable for your pet.