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Treatment for Rabies in Dogs and Cats

  
 

Treatment for Pets with Rabies

If you think your pet has been exposed to rabies or bitten by a rabid animal, contact your veterinarian immediately. If your pet has been vaccinated, he or she will be quarantined for 10 days, but treatment will not include re-vaccination. If your pet is unvaccinated and has contracted rabies, he or she will be euthanized and the brain tissue submitted for analysis. Make sure to follow the law and have your pet vaccinated.

Rabies in Humans

Humans can be treated with an immediate series of rabies vaccines, and they will sometimes be saved. One woman survived after physicians induced a coma. She was bitten by a bat in September of 2004, developed symptoms in October, and doctors induced a coma to stop the disease from spreading. With this one exception, humans who have not been previously vaccinated or who have not received immediate vaccination have not survived.

  

It is essential to have all dogs and cats vaccinated for rabies, because rabies is not only a fatal disease in pets, it is also dangerous to humans.

 

Prevention of Rabies

To protect yourself, don't handle or feed wildlife. Don't let your pet chase or investigate wildlife.

The Rabies Vaccine (Rabies Shot)

To protect your pet medically and legally, have him or her vaccinated by your veterinarian. If you give the vaccine yourself, the law does not recognize your pet as having been vaccinated. In many communities, the rabies vaccine is coupled with the requirement to obtain a license for your pet. Unfortunately, some communities require yearly vaccination although your pet is protected for more than one year by many vaccines. These communities are doing this to ensure that pets have annual licenses. Some veterinarians help pets avoid immune damage caused by over-vaccination by drawing titers to show a pet has a protective level of antibodies to the rabies virus.

The rabies vaccine, or the rabies shot is required for dogs, cats, and ferrets that are traveling on Interstate transport. Rabies certificates are also required when traveling outside the United States. Most Canadian border crossing staff accept rabies vaccine titers in lieu of a vaccine certificate.

Duration of rabies vaccine immunity depending upon which vaccine is used:

  • Dogs: 1-3 years
  • Cats: 1-3 years
  • Ferrets: 1 year
  • Horses: 1 year
  • Cattle: 1 year
  • Sheep: 1-3 years

There is no legal injectible vaccine for wildlife and wolves or wolf-hybrids. Some state and federal agencies can legally vaccinate wildlife with oral vaccines.

  

 
 

How Pets are Normally Vaccinated for Rabies

Pet: Dogs, Cats, Ferrets Initial Vaccination:
Protection begins in 28 days
1st Booster Vaccination:
Protection begins immediatley
2nd Booster Vaccination:
Protection begins immediatley
A puppy, kitten or
young ferret
Initial rabies vaccine at minimum 3 months of age 1 year later 1 or 3 years later, depends on type of vaccine and local laws
Pet of any age with unknown vaccination history Vaccinate immediately or when reaches at least 3 months of age 1 year later

1 or 3 years later, depends on type of vaccine and local laws

 

Typical Action Taken if an Animal Bites a Human

Type of Pet Observation/Quarantine/Euthanasia Vaccination
Healthy dog, cat,
or ferret
10 day isolation and observation Don't give rabies vaccine
Sick dog, cat,
or ferret
Euthanize, submit brain tissue to authorities  
Stray dog, cat,
or ferret
Euthanize, submit brain tissue to authorities  
 

Typical Action Taken if an Animal is Exposed to Rabies

Type of Animal Observation/Quarantine/Euthanasia Vaccination
Currently vaccinated pet
or livestock
Isolation with owner for 45 days Give rabies vaccine immediately
Pets or livestock
whose vaccine coverage
has lapsed
Case by case  
Unvaccinated pets, livestock, wildlife Euthanize, submit brain tissue to authorities
or strict quarantine for 6 months
Vaccinate for rabies at entry to quarantine and again 1 month before exit

Stray dog, cat,
or ferret

Euthanize, submit brain tissue to authorities

 

 
  

  
More Information on Rabies in Dogs and Cats
  
 

   
 
 
   
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