Core and non-core vaccines – When you take your pet to the vet, they’ll likely recommend at least a few core vaccines. These are the ones they think every pet should get to safeguard against some of the most common illnesses. Core vaccines include ones for rabies, parovirus, distemper and adenovirus.

Non-core vaccines are ones that aren’t necessary and will be recommended based on your pet’s lifestyle. For instance, if your pet spends a lot of time outdoors or in wooded areas, the vet may recommend a lyme disease vaccine. The shots for bordetella and influenza are other non-core vaccines that may still be beneficial.

Know the risks – Vaccines work by injecting a small amount of the virus that is dead or dormant into the body. While many people and pets can walk away from a vaccine with little to no side effects, it’s important to note that they can occur. In pets, a few common ones include temporary lethargy, soreness, stiffness, sneezing and hair loss at the injection site. If any of these symptoms persist, see your vet.

Other more severe and dangerous side effects are weight loss, hives, myocarditis, anaphylaxis and seizures. If your pet has any of those symptoms or reactions, take him to the vet immediately. There is also the risk that your pet could contract the disease the vaccine is trying to prevent. Know the symptoms of the disease so you know what to look for on the off chance that they do come down with the disease.

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