DEAR PET TALK: Why is a rabies shot important? – Devoted to Dogs
DEAR DEVOTED: Massachusetts law requires puppies and kittens to be vaccinated by six months of age. According to Dr. Ashley Raymond, Second Chance Animal Services Medical Director, “Protecting your pets is simple with a rabies vaccination administered by your veterinarian. This vaccine not only keeps your pets safe but also helps prevent the spread of this dangerous disease. This law is in place to help protect humans from contracting the disease, which leads to death if not addressed promptly.”
If you do not get your dog from a shelter, where rabies vaccinations are mandatory, get your dog a rabies shot immediately. Ditto for cats. This virus lives in saliva, so if your dog is bitten, the virus is then carried into its body, where it replicates in muscle cells and then spreads to nerve fibers. Symptoms may take up to a month, and may include fever, seizures, lack of coordination or paralysis, behavioral changes (shyness or aggression) and more.
“Rabies is a deadly virus that affects both humans and animals, with most mammals susceptible to infection,” said Dr. Raymond. “If an unvaccinated pet contracts rabies, it almost always leads to death. Wild animals including raccoons, foxes, skunks, bats, and even cats most often are the most common carriers of the disease.”
If your dog is in a fight, and is bitten, immediately get it to a vet, even if it has had a rabies shot. If you’re bitten by a wild animal, or a dog or cat with unknown history, ditto. And thank Louis Pasteur for identifying this disease, and administering the first rabies vaccines back in 1885. We’ve vaccinating our pets for a long time, but rabies still exists and it’s awful. Take care of your pet.
You can make a reservation for your pet at the next Jeffrey P. Stephens Low-Cost Vaccine Clinic for a $5 rabies, $5 distemper and $22 microchip. The clinic is sponsored by Second Chance Animal Services and made possible in part by a grant from the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts. It will be held on Saturday, Sept. 23, from 9-12 p.m. at Fitchburg Fire Department, 33 North St. Open to pet owners in all towns. Call (508) 637-1333 to make a reservation or visit secondchanceanimals.org.
Sally Cragin is the Director of Be PAWSitive Therapy Pets and Community Education. Send questions to email@example.com