Keeping Your Pet Updated on Vaccinations | PetFirst
Pet Care & Health

Keeping Your Pet Updated on Vaccinations

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
1 month ago

If you’re like many pet parents, you want your furry family member to live a long, healthy life.  Many pet owners go out of their way to ensure the health of their fur friends, including choosing their pet’s food carefully, investing in vitamins and supplements, and carefully vetting pet-sitters, doggy daycares, and boarding facilities.  

But did you know that one of the easiest, proven ways to help your pet live a long, healthy life with you is by making sure he is vaccinated against diseases for which he could be at risk?   

Keep reading to learn more about pet vaccines and how they can impact your pet’s overall health. 

How do vaccines work?  

Vaccines help prepare your pet’s body to fight off disease-causing agents. Vaccines contain foreign agents that look like the diseases they are designed to fight. However, they do not cause illness.  

Introducing the vaccines into the body stimulates the immune system to respond by producing antibodies to the illness.  Once armed with the antibodies, your pet’s immune system is prepared to recognize certain diseases and fight them off.   

Do vaccines guarantee my pet will not get certain illnesses?  

Vaccinating your pet does not guarantee he will not contract an illness. However, the widespread use of vaccinations within the last century has prevented death and disease in millions of animals, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)6 

In cases where a vaccinated pet contracts an illness, the pet usually experiences less severe symptoms.  

There are a very small number of animals who simply do not respond to vaccinations at all, according to Susan Nelson, DVM, at the Kansas State University Veterinary Pet Health Center7. The animals in this subset are referred to as non-responders8.  

 What vaccines does my pet need?  

Your veterinarian can help determine which vaccines your pet will need.  Some of the factors he or she will consider when determining a vaccination regimen are:

  • The type of vaccine 
  • Your pet’s age 
  • Your pet’s breed and gender
  • Your pet’s medical history 
  • Your pet’s genetic history 
  • Your family and pet’s lifestyle (For Example: do you take your dog hunting, fishing, or hiking? Do you board your dog?)
  • Travel habits 
  • Environment/Geography 
  • Local animal laws   

Types of vaccines  

The American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) guidelines for dogs and the American Association of Feline Practitioner’s (AAFP) guidelines for cats both break vaccines into two categories: Core and Noncore.   

Core vaccines are considered essential for all healthy pets. These protect against illnesses that are serious in nature, can cause significant illness or death, and are easily transmitted from animals to humans.  

Core vaccines include:  

  • Canine Distemper 
  • Canine Parvovirus 
  • Canine Hepatitis 
  • Panleukopenia (feline distemper) 
  • Rhinotracheitis (feline herpes) 
  • Feline Calicivirus (an upper respiratory infection) 
  • Rabies  

Noncore vaccines are given depending on your pet’s lifestyle and risk of exposure to certain illnesses.  Some of these may be considered necessary based on the prevalence of certain illnesses in certain locations. 

Canine noncore vaccines include:  

  • Bordetella 
  • Leptospirosis 
  • Lyme 
  • Canine Influenza 
  • Parainfluenza 
  • Rattlesnake vaccine  

Feline noncore vaccines include:  

  • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) 
  • Bordetella 
  • Chlamydophila Felis 
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)  

Local animal laws  

Most states require dogs, cats, and ferrets to be vaccinated against rabies.  Some states require the vaccine to be administered by a licensed veterinarian, while other states allow veterinary technicians or similarly licensed people to administer it.  Additionally, some states require that the rabies vaccine be administered every year, while others require it every three years.  

Many states often require proof of vaccination records in order to register your pet as well. If you are unsure of the requirements where you live, check out the AVMA State Rabies Vaccination Laws9.    

Can my pet have side effects from vaccines?  

Most animals have very little reaction to vaccinations.  However, like any medical procedure, there is always some risk.  The most common side effects are mild and usually resolve within a day or two.  Some side effects can include:  

  • Fever 
  • Sluggishness 
  • Temporary pain at the injection site 
  • Temporary swelling at the injection site 
  • Mild respiratory symptoms 

Reasons to keep your pet up-to-date on vaccinations 

Even if your pet spends the majority of his or her time indoors, keeping your fur-friend up-to-date on vaccinations will protect both your pet, other pets, and your family from common diseases.   

Additionally, wild animals are known to be carriers of certain diseases (like rabies). Mice, bats, squirrels, and birds can end up in your home through chimneys, garages, and crawl spaces. If you travel with your pet or board him or her in a facility, you will likely be required to have proof of vaccination.    

Most importantly, when vaccinating your pet you will protect your furry friend from contracting what could be life-threatening diseases.  

You can also protect your pet’s health by making sure your pet is covered with a Pet Insurance Policy2 from PetFirst1. Here at PetFirst1, we know accidents and illnesses happen to all pets. PetFirst Pet Insurancecan help cover unexpected vet visits2 and can provide peace of mind.

Consider getting pet insurance for your furry friend today. 


 1PetFirst Healthcare, LLC (“PetFirst Pet Insurance” or “PetFirst”) is the program administrator authorized to offer and administer pet health insurance policies underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company, with its main office at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, or New Hampshire Insurance Company or The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, each with its main administrative office at 500 West Madison Street, Suite 3000 Chicago, IL 60661. For costs, complete details of coverage, and a listing of approved states, please contact PetFirst Healthcare, LLC.  

2Like most insurance policies, insurance policies offered by PetFirst Healthcare, LLC contain certain exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. 

6American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). AVMA Resources – Tools For Pet Owners- Petcare/Vaccinations 

 7Kansas State University Veterinary Pet Health Center, Vaccinations, by Susan Nelson, DVM  

8Kansas State University Veterinary Pet Health Center, Vaccinations, by Susan Nelson, DVM   

9Administration of Rabies Vaccination State Laws 

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