Rabies is a zoonotic viral disease that is transmitted through the saliva and nervous tissue of an infected mammal to any other mammal, including livestock, pets, wildlife and humans. Non-mammals, including fish, poultry, birds, reptiles, and amphibians (e.g. frogs and toads) can’t get rabies. Rabies is almost always fatal. Once signs of rabies appear, the animal will die, typically within a few days. In Texas, companion animals can be exposed to rabies when they encounter rabid wildlife, such as bats, skunks, or foxes. Vaccination not only protects your animal from disease and death due to rabies, but also provides an important second level of defense for you and your family. Rabies is a 100% preventable virus via vaccination, nonetheless, rabies related deaths still occur at an increasing rate in recent years.
When should companion animals receive rabies vaccines?
Dogs: The first rabies vaccine should be given between 12 – 16 weeks of age, with a second vaccination 12 months later. A booster is then required every 3 years.
Cats: The first rabies vaccine should be given between 12 – 16 weeks of age, with a second vaccination 12 months later. Cats should receive a booster vaccine every year or every three years thereafter, depending on the type of vaccine used.
Common Reactions to Vaccines:
Lethargy, a slight fever and some mild discomfort are the most common side effects after being vaccinated. This can be characterized by your pet not acting like themselves, hiding and sleeping a lot more. This is a normal reaction to vaccinations, and the symptoms should be mild and only last one or two days.
Lumps and bumps are common side effects in both cats and dogs. Sometimes a small bump will develop at the vaccine injection site. Although this is a normal response pet owners should monitor the area to make sure that the lump isn’t growing in size or displaying signs of inflammation, oozing or infection. The lump shouldn’t be painful and should gradually disappear in about a week, if not notify your veterinarian immediately.
Some vaccinations are administered through the nose and some side effects to intranasal vaccines can look similar to a cold – runny nose, coughing and sneezing. This should be mild and your pet should return to normal within a few days.
Most effects from puppy and kitten shots are short in duration and mild, but, in a couple of rare situations more severe reactions that require immediate medical attention can arise. Symptoms of a serious reaction will typically occur very quickly after the vaccine is administered but can take up to 48 hours. Signs of more severe side effects to pet vaccinations include itchiness, hives, facial swelling, diarrhea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. Anaphylaxis is the most severe allergic reaction that cats and dogs can have from vaccinations. Anaphylaxis will typically occur in pets very shortly after being given a vaccination, but it’s important to know that anaphylaxis can appear up to 48 hours after the vaccine.
There are times when a more severe reaction can occur. If the pet exhibits any of these symptoms seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY! Severe adverse reactions can present with itchiness, hives, facial swelling, diarrhea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. Anaphylaxis will typically occur in pets very shortly after being given a vaccination, but it’s important to know that anaphylaxis can appear up to 48 hours after the vaccine.
Please help the world eradicate rabies by getting your pets vaccinated and reporting any suspicious animals to the proper authorities. If you are unsure of your pet’s rabies vaccine status or they are past due, call us and we get you in for an appointment!