My to-do this morning was taking my cat Bruiser to the vet for his annual checkup and rabies vaccination.   The good news?  The vet says he’s perfect – like I had any doubt about that.  And he’s such a good boy that the vet didn’t even need a vet tech to help when it was time for the shot.  But speaking of the rabies shot – do you have any idea why our pets are required to get rabies vaccines every year?

Rabies itself is a very contagious and fatal viral infection that is spread via the saliva of mammals.  The rabies virus causes inflammation in the brain with early symptoms including fever and tingling at the site of the exposure or bite.  Symptoms progress to confusion, fear of water, violent movements or convulsions, partial paralysis and loss of consciousness.   Once the symptoms appear, the result is almost always death – and more worrying, the symptoms can take up to a year to start appearing.   So it’s very important to keep the virus in check – and a vaccinations for your pet is the best way to make sure your potential for exposure to the disease is as minimal as possible.

Thanks to the efforts of animal control laws regarding rabies vaccines, rabies deaths in the U.S. have declined dramatically from the 1970’s to the point where there is on average only 1 or 2 human deaths of rabies in the U.S. each year.  And reports of rabies breakouts now are most likely to be in wildlife rather than our domestic animals.

If you experience a bite from a wild animal or unprotected pet, there is a very effective preventive treatments available consisting of a series of 5 shots given over a 14 day period.  If you are bitten by an unfamiliar or wild animal, wash the bite with soap and water for 15 minutes and call your doctor.  You’ll want to start the treatment as soon as possible if you cannot establish that the animal has had a rabies vaccine.

Want to know more about rabies?  Check out these links:

And here’s a picture of my buddy Bruiser!