"Vaccinations are just a way for vets to make more money."
FACT: Not vaccinating is likely to be even more costly for you. You may save a few bucks now, but you'll pay dearly if your pet gets sick. Parvovirus, for example, is deadly and highly contagious—your dog or puppy could catch it from another dog or any infected surface. Treatment can run you $1,000 (the shot costs about $10 to $30), and unvaccinated dogs have a very low survival rate. Fully vaccinating your dog against common ailments can cost $150 per year.
"Most states require annual rabies shots, but it's fine to skip some."
FACT: When you don't keep up with boosters, you risk an outbreak. Regular vaccine boosters are necessary to maintain immunity. When you skip a rabies shot, you're not only breaking the law, but you're also putting your own pet and any cats, dogs or humans who come in with him at risk. All it takes to get rabies is a scuffle with a rabid skunk or cat. The disease is fatal, but most rabid pets die from euthanasia, and any humans who handled him will likely need preventive treatment.
"My cat lives inside and my dog doesn't go to parks, so they don't need shots."
FACT: Many common diseases spread without direct animal . Feline distemper, also known as panleukopenia, is a highly contagious virus (it can live for up to two years on a surface), and can easily find a way into your home. If a friend's cat with panleukopenia rubs up on you, you can infect your cat. Dogs can get canine distemper simply by inhaling it, so if your dog sniffs the wrong urine, or another dog sneezes near him on a walk, he can contract it.
"I've heard vaccine reactions can be fatal. I'm not taking any chances."
FACT: Fewer than 1% of animals have an adverse reaction to vaccines. Studies indicate that while such reactions can happen, lethargy, soreness or swelling are the most common complaints. Less frequently, animals can develop fever, an allergic reaction or an immune disorder. It's a much greater risk to expose your pet to the deadly diseases that vaccinations guard against.
Give 'em their best shots
Discuss these core vaccines, recommended for every cat and dog, with your veterinarian. You can also call a local shelter for a list of nearby low-cost clinics and learn about free rabies vaccination days. Many clinics have discount vaccine days, too; look them up at or .
Dogs are at risk for:
- Rabies (legally required in all state but Hawaii)
- Canine parvovirus
- Canine distemper
- Canine hepatitis
Cats are at risk for:
- Feline rhinotracheitis
- Feline caplicivirus