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Dog getting a check up

AUBURN, Ala.—Making sure pets are up to date on all vaccinations is a big part of overall pet health. Vaccinating pets is important not only for the pet, but also for the owner. There are a number of diseases animals can contract if they are not up to date on vaccines. This puts the animal’s and owner’s health at risk.

Check-ups Are Important

Dr. Soren Rodning, an Alabama Extension specialist and associate professor in Animal Sciences, says annual check-ups are good for overall pet health.

“Even if your pet is seems healthy, an annual check-up is necessary to ensure that the animal has all its vaccines, parasite medications or overlooked conditions that are treatable before they become worse.”

Vaccinating your pet protects you from zoonotic diseases. These are diseases that pass from animals to humans. Leptospirosis, rabies and Lyme disease are a few examples.Young adult holding a kitten. 


Rabies is a public health threat. This is why a rabies vaccination is required by law for dogs and cats. Some state laws are different so it is important to know the law within your state. Animals generally receive their first rabies vaccination at three months of age, and then annually or every three years after depending on state laws and the type of vaccine.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is zoonotic in a different way. If your pet has the disease, it is not going to spread it directly to humans. However, the ticks carrying Lyme disease that infested your dog can also infest you. To keep you and your pet safe, talk to your veterinarian about the best ways to prevent Lyme disease and tick infestations.


Leptospirosis is also a life-threatening bacterial disease in animals and humans.  It is contracted by contact with an infected dog’s urine, through an open wound or mucus membranes such as the eyes and mouth.

Share concerns with veterinarian

Some pet owners might be concerned about over-vaccination of their pet. Rodning says that prevention is often better than treatment.

“Pet owners need to understand that prevention of diseases is more important and in some cases more effective than treatment,” says Rodning.  “Vaccinations do cost money, but in the long run, they are worth it. Vaccinations are not nearly as costly and inconvenient as it becomes when an animal gets sick from a disease that could have been easily prevented. Talk to your veterinarian during your pet’s annual exam and discuss the pros and cons of each vaccine.”

Rodning recommends finding a veterinarian that you can trust and have a good working relationship.

“Find someone that you can talk to and are willing to follow their recommendations for all things related to your animal’s health and wellbeing,” says Rodning. “Your veterinarian can provide a lot of health services including medicine, surgery, vaccinations, deworming and routine monthly preventatives for fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites.”


In Text Image: lithian/shutterstock.com

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