Frequently asked questions about vaccination.
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Q. What vaccinations does my dog need?

A. Vaccines for canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis, and rabies are considered essential. Other vaccines, like those for Leptospirosis, Lyme Disease or Canine Coronavirus Infection, are a good idea depending on where you live and your dog’s level of risk. Talk with your veterinarian. He or she is the best person to advise you.

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Q. What vaccinations does my cat need?

A. Vaccines for panleukopenia ("feline distemper"), viral rhinotracheitis or calicivirus ("upper respiratory diseases"), and rabies are considered essential. Other vaccines, such as for feline leukemia, like those for respiratory diseases, are a good idea depending on your cat’s level of risk. Talk with your veterinarian. He or she knows what’s best for your cat.

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Q. When should my pet be vaccinated?

A. In general, a veterinarian will give a series of vaccinations early in an animal’s life to help it develop immunity against a number of diseases. Mature pets need boosters to help maintain their immunity. Your veterinarian will assess your pet's risk factors and recommend a vaccination program.

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Q. How will my pet feel after vaccination?

A. The way an individual animal reacts to a vaccine depends on a number of factors, including its age, overall health, and the type of vaccination he or she received. In all likelihood your pet will act normally. Your pet may feel a bit tired or run a slight fever or not feel much like eating, but that’s nothing to worry about. If these clinical signs persist beyond 48 hours or are more severe, let your veterinarian know.

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Q. Does a pet that never goes outside need to be vaccinated?

A. Even pets that live indoors can be exposed to diseases. Bacteria or viruses might come into the house in several ways. And your pet will go outdoors for medical appointments, and possibly for boarding. So, yes, even pets that live entirely indoors should be vaccinated in most cases. Talk with your veterinarian for more information on a vaccination program that is right for your pet's lifestyle.

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Q. Does an elderly pet need to be vaccinated?

A. An elderly pet with an aging immune system should continue to be vaccinated. You should continue to talk with your veterinarian about vaccination as your pet ages.

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Q. Why do puppies and kittens need so many vaccinations?

A. When your pet gets a vaccine, its immune system produces antibodies in response. Nursing puppies and kittens receive certain antibodies from their mothers that help protect them from disease early in life. These same antibodies, passed in the mother's milk, can keep vaccines administered to young animals from being completely effective. The presence of maternal antibodies gradually decreases as the young animals age. A series of vaccines over the same period of time properly stimulates the young animal to produce its own antibodies.

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Q. How much does vaccination cost?

A. The cost of vaccinations can vary. Talk with your veterinarian about what to expect. But rest assured that vaccination does not cost as much as treating a serious illness does. (It’s a lot easier on your pet, too.)

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For more information about vaccination — and everything else related to the health of your pet — turn to your veterinarian.