The Reason Every Cat and Dog Needs The Rabies Vaccine

Sep 12, 2019 | Cats, Dogs, Infectious Diseases

Rabies, who cares!?

Well…I do. Being a veterinarian allows me to do a lot of cool things every day, helping animals and the people who love them. But, the single most important thing I do is make sure rabies doesn’t enter your life. And I’m going to tell you why.

Your Pet’s Vaccine Can Save Your Life

Rabies kills. And it’s not a pleasant way to go. I could spend all day explaining what rabies does when it infects humans. If you are truly curious, this short video shows the disease’s progression in an infected man, all the way to death. Please be careful about your kids seeing this video, and any others showing rabies in humans.

How Rabies Vaccines Protect People

I bet you always thought the rabies vaccine is to keep your cat or dog from getting rabies. Wrong! It’s to keep YOU from getting rabies. The most likely route rabies will take to get from wildlife to you is through your pets. That vaccine is literally a barrier to protect you. The fact that it protects your pet is just an interesting side effect.

Inside Pets Need Rabies Vaccines

I have heard every excuse people come up with for not vaccinating their pets:

  • “The cat never goes outside.”
  • ”The dog is always in the fenced-in yard.”

Those excuses fall apart the second a bat gets in the house, or a rabid groundhog cruises through the yard. Do you think your cat isn’t going to chase the bat? Do you think your dog is just going to invite the groundhog over for dinner? The fact is, these things do happen.

The Story of the Bat in the House

A few months ago a client told me about a bat that had gotten into his home. He found one of his cats playing with it, and took it in for testing. The bat came up positive for rabies. He had no idea how long the bat had been inside, and often people sleeping can’t feel a bat’s bite. So, he and his entire family had to get post-exposure rabies vaccinations. The total cost was $126,000.

The only reason his cats weren’t euthanized? You guessed it: They were current on their rabies vaccine.

The Story of the Stray Kitten

I had a client several years ago who brought home a stray kitten. All the neighborhood kids and some of their parents played with it. Until it got sick, that is. The kitten was diagnosed with rabies, and over 40 people had been exposed.

In order to get enough vaccines for everyone, the State Police had to fly a helicopter up to Toronto. Rabies vaccines aren’t cheap, and neither are helicopters. Guess who had to pay for it all: The client who found the stray kitten.

The Story of the Rabid Groundhog

I got a call one day from a man who said his dog had been attacked by a groundhog in the backyard. He killed the groundhog but the dog had several bite wounds on him. They later had the groundhog tested positive for rabies. However, the dog had never been vaccinated, and unlike humans, there is no post-exposure vaccine for animals. So, the dog had to be put down because there was NO WAY it avoided contracting rabies.

But that’s not all. The father and his two children had to receive those expensive post-exposure vaccines, because they had all run their fingers through the dog’s fur — which had saliva from the groundhog on it — looking for wounds. If they touched their lips, rubbed their eyes or got some of that saliva on a wound that had been recently bleeding, they were exposed and could easily develop rabies themselves.

There are other stories, but I think the point is made.

The Simple Solution to Rabies

The solution is simple. Just get your dog or cat the shots. The first one when they are about 12 weeks old, another one a year later, then once every three years after that. It’s easy, there are few side effects or adverse reactions, and there are places where you can get it done dirt cheap.

So turn off the TV and go get your pets vaccinated before your puppy gets put down you’re the one who has to get a bunch of needles stuck in your backside! You owe it to yourself, your family and friends, your veterinarian and their staff members, even the guy who comes into your home to fix your dishwasher. Questions? We can answer them for you. Call us at 434-973-3519, or contact us via email. We are always here to help.

— Dr. Michael Young

For more information, contact our team at VETSS, a Charlottesville VA urgent care animal hospital!

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