Several steps help protect animals against infection. Sometimes, antibiotics are administered to prevent an infection from developing. This preventive measure is called prophylaxis. Many healthy animals that undergo certain types of surgery, such as intestinal surgery, are given prophylactic antibiotics at the time of surgery.
Vaccination also can prevent infections. When a vaccination is given, it primes the immune system so that if the animal is later exposed to the infectious agent, the body will have an enhanced ability to fight off the specific disease-causing bacteria or virus. In many animal species, vaccinations against certain diseases (such as rabies) are required. The vaccines available today are highly reliable and are well tolerated by most animals.