If you spend any time at all on social media, you’re probably well aware that there is quite a bit of controversy in human medicine about whether or not vaccines are a wise choice.   As it turns out, we’ve also started to see a smattering of those same questions among pet owners.  It’s important to understand why your veterinary recommends vaccines for your dog or cat: your pet’s life may depend on it.

This type of preventative medicine has been developed as a result of countless years of research, and vaccines have long been considered one of the easiest and most affordable ways to ensure the health of your best friend.  They are designed to prepare your pet’s immune system to fight off potentially fatal diseases, and could mean the difference between life and death for your pet (in the event that he or she is exposed to one of these diseases).  Moreover, some vaccines, such as the rabies vaccines (which is contagious to a variety of species), also protect wildlife and human life.

In addition to the rabies vaccine, which is mandated by each state’s individual laws, there are certain vaccines that are considered to be part of the very basic care requirements of every pet.  These are often referred to as “core vaccines”.

Core vaccines for cats include:

  • feline distemper (panleukopenia)
  • feline calici virus
  • feline herpes virus type I (rhinotracheitis)
  • rabies

Core vaccines for dogs include:

  • parvovirus
  • distemper
  • hepatitis
  • rabies

In addition to the core vaccines, “non-core” vaccines may also be given, depending on your pet’s lifestyle, medical history, and your own particular concerns.  If your dog or cat is a good candidate for these vaccines, your veterinarian will recommend them during your routine wellness visits.

Puppies and kittens begin receiving their first set of vaccines at around six to eight weeks of age, but prevention is not complete once you’ve finished the “puppy/kitten series” at around 16 weeks.  Your pet will need periodic boosters, which will adhere to a schedule that has been recommended by your veterinarian.

If you’re on the fence about vaccines or don’t see the importance in annual or semi-annual wellness visits, your pet’s risk of exposure to a deadly disease should be your biggest concern.  The threat is real, and cases of these illnesses are still seen today.  Anyone who feels unsure about whether or not they should vaccinate their pet should speak with their veterinarian in detail about the pros and cons.  Prevention really is the best choice for your pet and your community.

Featured Photo Credit: *Bárbara* Cannnela via Compfight cc