The Importance of Vaccinating Against Rabies

As pet parents, you have made several trips to the vet clinic during the course of your pets’ lives to get them the vaccines they need. There are several different vaccines each pet can receive based on their lifestyle and the likelihood of exposure to certain diseases and illnesses. However, the only vaccine that pets are required by law to receive is the rabies vaccine. So, why is the rabies vaccine so important?

Rabies is a virus typically spread through saliva after being bit by an infected animal. It is a fatal disease, with only 6 known cases of a human surviving after becoming infected with rabies and developing symptoms. This makes rabies a huge public health issue, and in order to decrease its prevalence, rabies vaccines are required for all dogs, cats, and ferrets.

Though we don’t hear a lot about rabies on a day to day basis, it is definitely out there and in our area. It is far more prevalent in Africa, South America, and Asia. However, in the past year, we have had two bats test positive in the Dubuque area. This is why it is so important to keep your pets’ rabies vaccines up to date, even pets who never go outside or interact with other animals. You never know when a bat may get into your home!

Current recommendations by the CDC for any unvaccinated pet bit by a wild animal often is either euthanasia or 6 months quarantine. Thankfully, if your dog is vaccinated and the vaccine is current, your pet can receive a booster of the rabies vaccine and may be quarantined for a much shorter period of time. Similarly, if your pet has a current rabies vaccination and bites a person, it may be required to be quarantined for 10 days. An unvaccinated pet that bites a person may need to be euthanized in order to be tested for rabies, therefore ensuring the safety of the person who was bitten. Thankfully these incidents don’t happen often, but you can ensure your pet’s health and safety by keeping your their rabies vaccines current. It could save their life!