Pets, Vaccinations, and Rabies
British Columbia Specific Information
Rabies is a very serious and usually fatal disease caused by one of a number of rabies viruses. If you are bitten or scratched by an animal that may have rabies, or seems sick and behaves strangely, it is crucial to begin preventative treatment for rabies as soon as possible. This includes washing the wound well and seeking medical care.
For more information see HealthLinkBC File #07a Rabies, HealthLinkBC File #07b Rabies Immune Globulin and Vaccine, or visit BC Centre for Disease Control - Rabies. You may also call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse any time, every day of the year.
Cats, dogs, and ferrets
Cats, dogs, and ferrets should receive their first rabies vaccination at the age of 3 months and their second vaccination at the age of 1 year. After the second vaccination, the need for revaccination of cats and dogs is determined by the type of vaccine used, by the number of rabies cases in your local area, and local laws.
- Yearly vaccination may be needed in areas with a high incidence of rabies.
- Vaccination every 3 years may be needed in areas with a low incidence of rabies.
- Ferrets should be vaccinated every year.
Check with your veterinarian for the rabies vaccination schedule in your area.
If you have an exotic pet, check with your vet to find out what vaccinations the pet needs. Most common exotic animal bites come from:
- Skunks and raccoons. Wild (endemic) populations of skunks and raccoons have the greatest risk for having rabies.
- Ferrets. These animals can transmit rabies.
If you have questions about local rabies issues, contact your local health unit. If you will be travelling with your pet, check with your vet about the protection your animal needs and the risk your animal has for getting rabies.
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Current as ofMay 22, 2015
Current as of: May 22, 2015
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