As a veterinarian, I am often faced with this question when discussing procedures that involve sedation and/or anesthesia. There has been a long-held notion – and a lot of misinformation around the internet, etc. – that age is an anesthesia risk. It’s not entirely a surprise – after all, we visualize in our minds a young, presumably healthy person compared to an aged, decrepit individual with numerous health problems. Of course we would feel confident that the young person would be just fine while we would imagine the old-timer unlikely to survive the procedure.
To set the record straight: Age is not an anesthesia risk!
To assume that age is an anesthesia risk results in two big mistakes that I encounter pet owners – and unfortunately some veterinary practices and shelters – making on a regular basis:
It takes energy for the body to maintain immunity against a pathogen, which is a waste in the eyes of the body if that pathogen is no longer considered a threat. Therefore, your body’s immunity against a pathogen will fade over time if it is not re-exposed or “reminded” that the immunity is still important. This is what is being achieved when a vaccine is “boostered” – the body is being reminded that the disease is still important to be protected against.
There is no point to vaccinating against every disease out there. Vaccines have a cost to produce and administer, and – although rare – can have risk(s). So why vaccinate at all?
Vaccinations are recommended for diseases that are particularly severe, debilitating or have no effective treatment or cure. Risk for exposure can also play a factor in whether or not vaccines are recommended.
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