Understanding Rabies

Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system and is known for causing excessive saliva, staggering and aggression in its victims. Interestingly, the virus only affects mammals and spreads primarily through bites from an infected animal. According to the AVMA, there were 4,910 rabid animals in the US in 2016. That number decreased by about 10% from 2015 and continues to drop. While the prevalence of this deadly disease has decreased significantly, your pet still is at risk. That’s why rabies is a core vaccine and highly recommended for every pet.

The History of the Rabies VaccineHappy dog after receiving rabies treatment in Tewksbury

The rabies vaccine was developed by none other than Louis Pasteur (yes, the same man responsible for your pasteurized milk) in 1885. He had only tested his vaccine on dogs until a young boy who had been bitten by an infected dog was brought to him. In an effort to save the boy, he injected him with the vaccine before any symptoms of the disease appeared. Miraculously, the boy survived. Since then, the vaccine has been developed to be effective so your pet only needs one shot instead of several.

The Rabies Vaccine Today

Today, the vaccine is readily available for people as well as dogs, cats, ferrets, horses, cattle, and sheep. At our animal hospital, we provide the rabies vaccine for your cats and dogs. It is administered on a yearly basis.

What to Do if Bitten

If your pet is ever bitten, contact us immediately, and report the bite to local animal control authorities so they can contain the rabid animal. If your pet is up-to-date on their vaccination, they should be revaccinated immediately and kept under close observation until it is safe to say your pet is not infected.

It is extremely important that your pet is vaccinated against rabies and kept current with the vaccination. A pet who has never received the vaccine and is exposed to rabies could very well have to be euthanized.

Every September 28 is World Rabies Day and is a great time to make sure your pet’s vaccination is up-to-date. For more information about rabies and our vaccination, please contact us today.