Vaccinations have become a hot topic—especially with all the new pet adoptions during the pandemic. But when it comes to your pets, vaccinations don’t need to be controversial or complicated.

As veterinarians, we know that vaccinating your pets is one of the best, most inexpensive ways to protect their health. The core vaccines not only prevent illnesses with a high fatality rate, but they also protect you and your family, as many of these diseases can infect people.

While any medical treatment involves some degree of risk, in the case of vaccinations, the benefits far outweigh any potential side effects. Adverse reactions are rare and usually mild and short-term when they do occur.

Core vaccines are recommended (and may be mandated by law) for most dogs and cats, and include:

· Rabies (dogs and cats)
· Distemper, parvovirus, and canine hepatitis (dogs)
· Panleukopenia (feline distemper), calicivirus, feline viral rhinotracheitis (cats)

Non-core vaccines are those that may be recommended for your pet based on certain lifestyle factors.

For cats, those include vaccinations against feline leukemia (FeLV), chlamydia, and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Cats who go outdoors, interact with other cats are good candidates for these vaccines.

For dogs, the non-core vaccines are bordetella, canine influenza (CIV), leptospirosis, and Lyme disease. These vaccinations may be strongly suggested for canines who spend a lot of time outdoors or socializing with other dogs at places like dog parks, boarding kennels, and doggie daycare. While Lyme is not a huge concern in our area, if your dog regularly goes hiking or camping in the woods with you, it might be one to consider.

And yes—pets who live primarily indoors should also be vaccinated, as they can still be exposed to disease. Our veterinarians can advise you which vaccinations are required or recommended for your animal friend based on age, health, and lifestyle.