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5 Popular Pet Vaccination Myths, Busted

Over the years, vaccines have protected countless pets against devastating diseases, such as rabies and distemper. The following are five of these pet vaccination myths that have been circulating among pet parents.

cat getting vaccinated at vet

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate — that is a question that some pet owners have been asking themselves lately. In fact, according to the New York Times, there is a growing number of people who are opposed to pet vaccines, though this is often fueled by myths and misinformation.

This is truly an unfortunate trend. Over the years, vaccines have protected countless pets against devastating diseases, such as rabies and distemper. The following are five of these pet vaccination myths that have been circulating among pet parents.

Myth 1: House dogs and cats don't need vaccines

If you have a house cat or a dog that spends most of the time indoors, it's easy to assume that your pet won't need vaccinations. The truth is that in almost every state in the U.S., the rabies vaccination is required for dogs, cats, and ferrets that are four months of age or older — whether your pet stays inside or not.

Pets should also have their other core vaccines, which include:

For dogs

For cats

  • Panleukopenia

  • Feline calicivirus

  • Feline herpesvirus type I

Why vaccinate an indoor pet? There is always a chance that your pet could escape or that you'll have to board your dog or cat during an emergency. Rabies can also be spread by an infected animal, such as a bat, entering your home.

Additionally, some diseases — such as parvo — are highly contagious. You could accidentally transmit this disease to your dog simply by coming into contact with something that has been contaminated with parvo and then touching your pet.

Myth 2: You'll save money by skipping vaccines and your pet's annual checkup

You may think that taking your perfectly healthy dog or cat for a yearly exam and vaccines is a waste of money. However, these exams are important because they could help detect any health issues — such as cancer — while they're still manageable. Vaccines can also help prevent your pet from getting ill.

So, in the long run, wellness visits and vaccines could save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Myth 3: Vaccines will make my pet sick

Are pet vaccines safe, or can they make your dog or cat ill? In some cases, a pet might experience a mild reaction to a vaccination, such as pain at the injection site or lethargy. If this happens, some owners might wonder, "Are dog vaccines safe?" or "Is it okay to vaccinate my cat?"

The answer to these questions is yes. For the most part, vaccines are safe. The microorganisms contained within the vaccines have either been killed or altered so that they are no longer harmful and should not make your pet ill.

Myth 4: My pet got all the shots they will ever need before I brought them home

If you bought or adopted a "fully vaccinated" dog or cat, you might assume that your pets now have all the shots they need for the rest of their lives. However, the truth is your pet will need boosters for her or his core vaccinations every couple of years.

In addition, there may be some vaccinations that your pet may need that are not part of the core vaccinations. For example, if you live in an area that has a lot of ticks, you may want to get the Lyme vaccine for your pet.

Myth 5: Veterinarians "push" unnecessary vaccines to make money

A common misconception is that veterinarians are over-vaccinating pets so they can make more money. The reality is that most veterinarians are ethical and are not going to push for a pet to get a vaccine that the animal doesn’t need.

Still, if you do have questions about vaccinations, make sure to check out the AAFP guidelines for cats or the AAHA guidelines to find out which dog vaccines are absolutely necessary.

Vaccinations protect

With all the misinformation floating around about vaccines, it's not surprising that some pet owners have questions about their safety. The truth is that the pros of getting your pet vaccinated will far outweigh any cons that may exist.


Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.

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