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Published: May 10, 2012

There are a number of diseases and illnesses that can plague pets, causing painful symptoms and even death in severe cases. However, many pets never come close to suffering from these conditions thanks to vaccinations that are given throughout the pet's life to ward off the most common and deadly diseases.

Pets that visit their veterinarian on a regular basis are usually up to date on their shots and immunized against common diseases like rabies, which can be detrimental to human populations, too. This is one of many reasons why vaccinations are part of responsible pet care, said Dr. Dennis Dibbern, a West Virginia veterinarian.

"Vaccines have been instrumental in drastically reducing diseases like rabies throughout the country. Owners should not become passive with this important immunization, though, because rabies is still out there."

In addition to rabies in cats, vaccines can protect against feline distemper, feline herpes virus 1, calicivirus and feline leukemia, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Dog shots can prevent canine distemper virus, parvovirus, adenovirus-2 and other common viruses.

In some states, pet owners are required by law to regularly vaccinate their pet against certain diseases. If you are moving to a new state with your cat or dog, make sure to check the local immunization laws for pets.