Why Indoor Pets Still Require Vaccines and Parasite Prevention

One of the most common misconceptions among pet owners is that an indoor pet doesn’t require vaccination. This is particularly true among indoor cat owners whose pets may never or rarely leave the home. This question of whether to vaccinate also extends to parasite prevention, such as flea and tick control and heartworm prevention.

At Beverly Hills, we want to stress the importance of vaccines and preventives for all pets, regardless of where they spend most of their time.

Don’t Forget to Vaccinate Your Indoor Pet

  1. No pet is inside ALL the time. Despite the belief that an indoor-only animal may be risk-free, the fact is that even trips to the vet or grooming salon can expose your pet to an illness. That’s because viruses are hardy and can remain in the environment for hours or even weeks.
  2. Many pets get loose at one point or another. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 pets will be reported missing in their lifetime. An unvaccinated pet who is found and taken to a shelter may be exposed to a number of different illnesses. Even if your pet is only outside for a few minutes, he or she could still come into contact with a sick animal, increasing their risk for disease.
  3. Diseases can be carried in by you or a visiting person or animal. Even the most responsible pet owner can unwittingly transfer a virus to their pet. Parvovirus, for example, can easily be picked up on your clothing, shoes, or body if you or anyone who visits the home has been in contact with a sick animal or contaminated items.
  4. Some booster vaccines are necessary to manage latent diseases. Most pets receive shots when they’re young that do not eliminate the disease but manage it (should they have already been exposed at a young age). This is true of feline herpes and calicivirus, which are highly contagious. Exposure can mean that an illness is present but latent. Cats who are stressed will often get a flare-up of these illnesses, which can be helped with annual booster vaccines that minimize their frequency and severity.
  5. It’s the law. The rabies vaccine is required by law in the United States. Dogs are always required to have this vaccine, and in some states, cats and ferrets may also be required.

While we believe some vaccinations may not be needed for an indoor pet (such as leptospirosis or feline leukemia vaccines), core vaccines are recommended for all cats and dogs. This is because many of these illnesses can be fatal, highly contagious, or transmitted to humans, and vaccination is the best way to keep these diseases from spreading.

Pesky Parasites

Along with contagious diseases, parasites are not immune to your home. In multi-pet households, ticks can find their way in after a simple run at the park. Fleas can lay up to 50 or more eggs a day, and all it takes is a few (even during winter months) to cause an infestation.

Mosquitoes also find their way inside through tears in window screens and open doors. Most of us have found errant mosquitoes bopping against a light inside or around a tub or sink. And again, lack of protection assumes your pet will never leave the home for any reason.

Because parasites can also carry serious illnesses like heartworm disease, Lyme disease, and cat scratch fever, maintaining a preventive for your indoor pet is strongly recommended. After all, safe, effective prevention is a lot less costly and worrisome than treating a problem later on.

At Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates, all of our vaccine and parasite prevention programs are personalized, accounting for factors such as risk, age, health, lifestyle, and owner preferences. If we can answer any questions about which vaccines and preventives are best suited for your furry friend, we’d love to hear from you.