Just as you would vaccinate your child and yourself against certain diseases, the same holds true for your family pets. Some vaccinations are required by law, while others may not be required but highly recommended.
The rabies vaccine is not optional -- you must vaccinate your pet against rabies no matter where you live [source: Vet Info]. This is a good idea, not only because it protects them against a potentially fatal disease, because you'll also know your pet isn't carrying rabies if your pet bites someone. Animals have to be put down in some cases to determine if they have rabies to treat the human they bit. A vaccine is a small price to pay to avoid this.
Rabies vaccines can last anywhere from 1 to 4 years, depending on the vaccine used. Your local laws may require a new vaccine every year, or every 3. If you are traveling, your pet will probably need certain vaccines.
You should seek additional vaccines depending on your pet's habits. You may have thought you'd be safe from kennel cough once you brought your dog home from the shelter, but you should vaccinate your pet against kennel cough (also known as bordetella) if you plan on ever boarding the dog. Are you taking Spot to a dog park or dog beach? Though he won't be boarded with other dogs, he'll still be in close contact with lots of other canines, so you should consider the bordetella vaccine anyway. Similarly, if you love to go camping, hiking or spend a lot of time in the woods, think about vaccinating your pet against Lyme disease.
Lastly, it's important to protect your pet from harm. Visit the next page to brush up on anticruelty pet laws.