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Why Do Dogs Need the Rabies Vaccine?

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    We’ve all heard about the rabies vaccine, but do you know just how important it is for our dogs? This fatal virus is not common, but very scary. Dogs are able to get rabies when passed through a wild animal. That’s why it’s important to know your state’s legal requirements for the vaccine, the importance of the vaccine, and the signs of rabies. 

    What Exactly is Rabies?

    Rabies is a very serious infection of the brain and central nervous system. It’s most commonly found in wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, and bats. However, when it is rarely passed to domestic animals such as dogs, it is done so through a bite from an animal with the infection. The infectious virus particles exist in the saliva of the infected animal. Therefore passing along the infection through a bite. 

    If a dog is bitten, the virus passes into the dog’s body where it replicates in the cells of their muscles and the nerve fibers. This eventually travels to the central nervous system. It typically takes about 4 weeks for the virus to reach its full strength. Once symptoms of rabies are apparent, it spreads rapidly and death can occur as quickly as within 10 days. 

    Rabies Vaccines:

    Thanks to the rabies vaccine, rabies is 100% preventable! The vaccine protects not only your dog if he comes in contact with an infected animal, but also protects the other animals your dog comes in contact with as well as humans. Dogs and other domestic animals should first be vaccinated against rabies between 4 and 6 months of age. From there, booster shots will be administered one year from this date, and then in accordance with your local laws. Prevention through the vaccine is key, as there is no other way to prevent the seriously fatal disease. 

    Legal Requirements of Rabies Vaccines:

    The majority of states in the United States regulate the administration of rabies vaccinations to domestic animals including dogs. However, the frequency with which the vaccine should be administered varies from state to state. Some states may follow the guidance from the vaccine manufacturer. 

    Failure to follow your state law can result in a fine and even confiscation and euthanasia of your dog. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your state requirements for the rabies vaccinations. Contact your veterinarian or local animal control facility to learn about your state requirements and laws surrounding the rabies vaccine. It’s the best way to keep your pet, your family, and the community safe. 

    How Rabies Affects Your Dog

    Familiarize yourself with the signs of rabies in dogs, regardless of their vaccination status. The disease progresses in stages, beginning with a noticeable change in the affected dog’s temperament. As the virus continues to progress, the dog may become aggressive and display other bizarre behaviors. Unfortunately, the result of rabies in domestic animals is almost always death. 

    Many people assume that if they have an indoor-only pet, the vaccine isn’t necessary. However, this simply is not the case. For starters, it is the law. However, instances can occur such as wild animals like raccoons or bats entering homes through chimneys or air conditioning units. If your pet is exposed to a potential rabid animal and is overdue for the vaccination, your state will likely require a strict quarantine period. 

    Signs of Rabies:

    The incubation period varies when it comes to rabies. However, in domestic animals, it’s usually between 3-12 weeks. The most common signs of rabies include: 

    • Inappetence 
    • Difficulty swallowing 
    • Abnormal behavior 
    • Difficulty swallowing 
    • Loss of coordination 
    • Paralysis 
    • Seizures 

    Death tends to follow these signs rather quickly.