This study examined the pros and cons of a vaccine administered toward the end of a cat's tail.
It was a novel approach and I really liked the general concept, since as many as 1 in 1,000 cats vaccinated will develop a cancerous tumor known as a fibrosarcoma.
(You can read more about fibrosarcomas and the tail vaccine study here.)
Should a vaccine-associated sarcoma (VAS) develop, a tail amputation might give a cat a much greater chance of survival than if it were delivered behind the shoulder blades or in a lower limb.
|Dr. Sara Huber with one |
of her 4-legged patients
Dr. Huber: "I think that the research is definitely promising. However, one study does not a protocol make.
"I base my vaccination protocols on the recommendations put in place by the AAFP. They base their recommendations on a large body of research and come to a consensus based on this research and what is best for the welfare of the pet.
"In theory, vaccination at the caudal third of the tail makes perfect sense. If a tumor were to develop, a tail amputation can be done quickly, easily, and with relatively little pain to the pet."
It does sound promising. But is it too soon to jump on the bandwagon? Knowledgeable friends and bloggers have expressed concern that misdelivered vaccine injections might end up in the nerve branch of the tail's spine.
I would imagine that would be painful for your pet. Plus, what kind of danger might that pose to a cat?
|We love the elegant curve of Maxwell's tail. |
Still, we'd amputate in a heartbeat if it meant we could keep him alive.
As of now, these questions - as well as long term side effects of tail vaccines - have yet to be addressed.
Sara does find it promising that they seemed to get less of a reaction to vaccination in the tail than the distal hind limb. But she also finds it somewhat hard to believe.
|Faraday agrees: vets are|
SCARY. (But Dr. H is NICE)
"And I can't say I blame them! Its scary being put in a box and thrown in a vehicle and poked and prodded!
"I imagine that there will be a lot of vaccines going through the skin and ending up on the table. I personally would like to see more evidence based research on this topic prior to completely changing my protocol."
Sara also reminded me that "a discussion on sarcomas has to involve adjuvanted vs. non-adjuvanted vaccine." An adjuvant is a chemical added to a vaccine, oftentimes in an attempt to either stabilize the vaccine, increase its shelf-life, or increase the immune response in the one being vaccinated. Adjuvants have been identified as cancer-causing in cats. And they're not limited to vaccine injections, either. Some recently developed injectible flea repellents with adjuvants have been associated with cancer as well.
Sara argues that "with the greater options of non-adjuvanted vaccines available to us, we are able to reduce the risk of a chronic inflammatory reaction from the adjuvant and hopefully lower the chance of developing an injection site sarcoma while still adequately protecting our patients from disease."
Still, she concluded, "vaccine associated sarcomas are horrible. It is a topic that I think is very important to discuss with clients when designing a vaccine protocol for their specific pet."
We agree - and pray that research will continue until VAS becomes a topic found only in veterinary history books.
Monday Medical Disclaimer:
I am not a veterinarian, and the information provided here is not intended in any way as a substitute for professional veterinary care. Nor should it be used to self-diagnose for your pet. This information is for educational purposes and to provide you with reputable documentation you can use to pose informed questions of your own to the veterinarian of your choice.