Don’t sweat the swab

By Connie Orcutt • Published: September 1st, 2013
Category: Animal Airwaves

Sometimes little things get your attention, particularly when your concern is heightened. For example, why doesn’t your veterinarian swab your pet’s skin with alcohol before injecting a vaccine? After all, humans are usually swabbed pre-shot.

Skipping the swab is actually the recommended practice when using modified live vaccines — vaccines made from live viruses that are rendered unable to cause disease, like those for parvovirus and canine distemper. The virus must stay alive to effectively immunize your pet, so since alcohol can kill modified live viruses, swabbing with it isn’t recommended.

In addition, alcohol swabs provide no real benefit to your pet. The only reason your veterinarian might swab with alcohol prior to drawing blood is to flatten the fur and outline the vein.

The bottom line is: don’t sweat the swab.