Our veterinarians at the Little River Veterinary Clinic are often asked if it is absolutely necessary for all dogs and cats to get a rabies vaccine. While Fairfax may have many outdoor animals, people who keep their pets inside most of the time wonder if their pets are at risk. We tell them that, putting the risk factor aside, the rabies vaccine is the only one that is required by law. This is for both their pet's protection and their own.
Rabies and Your Pet
Rabies is a viral infection that is considered a zoonotic disease. That means it can be transferred from animals to pets. Most often, it is found in wild animals such as bats and raccoons, but if your pet comes into contact with an animal that is infected and gets bitten, your pet can catch rabies. Once inside the body, the rabies virus attacks your pet's nervous system and eventually works its way to the brain. Early symptoms of rabies may not be noticeable. Eventually, your pet will become more withdrawn, aggressive, and restless. In the final stages, they will become even more aggressive, become disoriented, and have seizures. Often, muscles in the head and neck will freeze and this makes swallowing impossible, which is shown by the excessive drooling most commonly associated with the disease. There is no cure for rabies and unfortunately, your pet will die.
The Rabies Vaccine
In the past, your pet had to be vaccinated every year against rabies. Today, there are two options and you should discuss them with your veterinarian. With both, there is the initial shot given at approximately six months of age and then a booster shot is given a year later. After that, your vet will discuss with you whether your pet is better off getting the shot every year or getting the once every three-year vaccination.
In very rare cases, your pet may show an allergic reaction to the vaccination. If the reaction is mild, the veterinarian may administer a dose of Benadryl before future shots. If the reaction is severe, the vet may be willing to write a letter to the health department in your area to waive the need for booster shots. This is no guarantee, however, that the lawmaking body of your area will agree.
One Minute Can Save a Life
The staff at the Little River Veterinary Clinic in Fairfax wants our patients to understand the importance of this vaccine. A brief shot that will barely be noticed by your pet could be the one thing that saves its life. Call us at (703) 273-5110 to schedule your pet’s rabies vaccine today.