There are many questions about the need to vaccinate pets. While every medical intervention has pros and cons, the low risk of side effects and the prevention of disease in both animals and humans offer much support for continued vaccination programs.
Pet vaccines are designed to trigger an immune response and prepare the animal's system to fight infection from disease. While some vaccines will prevent disease completely, others may only lessen the severity of the infection should your pet be exposed. Vaccines will also protect against zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that can be spread from animals to humans. Rabies is an example of a zoonotic disease. The rabies vaccine is required by law, although the type of vaccine required varies from state to state.
Risks from the most recommended vaccinations for pets are minor, including fever, pain, and swelling. Some more serious reactions are caused by allergies and may occur within minutes of being vaccinated: vomiting, diarrhea, extreme itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing. While uncommon, this type of reaction can even cause death and requires immediate veterinary care.
Not all pets require vaccinations, nor do all pets need all available vaccines. "Core" vaccines are recommended to protect against the most common and debilitating diseases. "Non-core" vaccines are reserved for pets that meet specific criteria.
Core vaccines for dogs include protection from the following diseases:
- Canine distemper
Non–core vaccines for dogs may include protection from these diseases:
- Lyme disease
Core vaccines for cats include protection from the following diseases:
- Parvovirus (Panleukopenia)
Non–Core Vaccines for cats may include protection from these diseases:
- Feline leukemia
- Feline immunodeficiency virus
- Chlamydophila felis
- Feline infectious peritonitis
As your professional veterinary team, we will consider your pet's age, general health, lifestyle, and risk of exposure to various preventable diseases, and we will then tailor a vaccination program specific to your animal companion.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website for easy-to-read information about protecting your family and pets from diseases.