Every August, the Centers for Disease Control hosts a public awareness campaign about the importance of vaccines. Although it’s intended for people, it’s also important for pet owners to know how essential vaccines are for their pet’s long-term health. Staying current on your pet’s required vaccination prevents her from acquiring a serious, disabling, or fatal illness. 
Some vaccines, such as rabies, are required by law while others are option depending on your pet’s lifestyle. You may also hear these called core and non-core vaccines. We will let you know more about each type of vaccine at your pet’s annual preventive care exam so you can make an informed decision. Some factors to consider for non-core vaccines include your pet’s species, age, general health, time spent outdoors and around other animals, and activity level.
Required Vaccinations for Dogs and Cats
In addition to a rabies shot, puppies need a series of vaccines against adenovirus, distemper, and parvovirus starting at six weeks of age and ending at four months old. This involves getting a combination of vaccines and boosters every couple of weeks until the four-month mark. Certain breeds of dogs may need extra immunizations because of their size or other unique factors.
Kittens who have certain risk factors should receive an immunization against feline leukemia. Required vaccines for kittens and cats include calicivirus, feline herpes, rabies, and rhinotracheitis. If you adopt a dog or cat after age four months, be sure to request her vaccination records. The veterinarians at Battletown Animal Clinic will get her caught up on any missing vaccines as quickly as possible.
Vaccines Are Necessary and Safe
Since it’s rare to hear about new cases of rabies and other vaccine-preventable diseases, some pet owners assume that it’s no longer necessary to get their animals vaccinated. However, these diseases do still exist and can return in epidemic proportion if enough people fail to get their pets vaccinated against them. It’s similar to the herd immunity concept in people. 
Another common objection to veterinary vaccines is that they produce uncomfortable side effects. While most shots do include some mild side effects, your pet should feel better within a day. The most common ones include:
  • Discomfort where he received the injection
  • Reduced appetite and level of activity
  • Slight fever
  • Coughing, runny nose, sneezing, and other respiratory symptoms
These side effects should go away on their own without further treatment. However, please contact us immediately if your pet has an allergic reaction, difficulty breathing, swelling, diarrhea, or vomiting. These are rare, serious side effects that require prompt attention. You may reach our clinic at 540-955-1151. This is also the number you can use to schedule your pet’s next check-up.
Image Credit: Cynoclub / Getty Images