Rabies, Raccoons and Dog Safety
On this episode of Vet Chat I ask Dr. Ryan Llera to discuss rabies, raccoons and dog safety.
There have been several warnings to pet owners lately informing them of raccoons that have tested positive for rabies, and don’t think for one minute that because you live in the city your pet is exempt from being exposed to these infected animals.
The above photo is a raccoon that took up residence in my own garbage bin. Let me tell you, there is nothing more eye opening, or heart racing then opening the lid to your garbage bin and seeing this face look up you at you!
Each time I let Edie out into our garden I have to be on guard and make sure the coast is clear, because up in the pine trees of my backyard lives a family of raccoons. There have been some close calls when one or more of these raccoons have been making their way walking along the tops of my fence to get to their tree house. So this week when I take Edie for her annual vet checkup, she will once again be getting her rabies vaccination.
Rabies in the Year 2016
Nature, the first frontier. So much has been learned about the world around us but one of the things we haven’t figured out is how to eradicate rabies. Yes, rabies is still out there and an affliction with it can be devastating. The Ministry of Natural Resources does its best to vaccinate the wildlife but sometimes it isn’t enough. This is where the reality of your pet’s health and the welfare of the general public comes into play.
Why is this especially important now? In the past 2 months, 33 cases of rabies have been diagnosed in raccoons in Ontario alone, mostly in the Hamilton area. The re-emergence of rabies was noted when two dogs were picked up by animal control and placed in a van with a sick raccoon. Subsequently, the raccoon and one of the dogs both got loose and were fighting. The dogs were not vaccinated against rabies and their fate remains undetermined as of December 2015. Additionally, several of the raccoons have also been diagnosed with distemper which is also transmissible to dogs (but not people).
Signs of rabies occur in phases:
- Dilated pupils, fever, hypersensitivity around the wound
- Constricted pupils, aggressive behavior, excessive drooling, stumbling, seizures
- Progressive paralysis, voice change, inability to swallow, dropped jaw, coma, death
Why don’t vaccines get updated? For some, pet owners it becomes a matter time or cost. Maybe it’s because the anti-vaccine movement has picked up ground though for the record, there are extremely few reasons to not have your pet vaccinated and they don’t typically get noted until pets are older in life. More often, the reason I’m given is that some pet owners feel their pets are indoors only (many cats) or that they never leave the yard or live out in the country. The fact remains that bats can fly indoors and wild animals can migrate through yards.
Animals that are not vaccinated and either bite a person or get bitten by an animal are at risk for being quarantined or in certain cases will be euthanized and tested for rabies. Yes, your beloved pet may be euthanized all because it wasn’t vaccinated for a preventable and deadly disease. Is it worth the risk of losing a furry family member or putting people at risk of being exposed? Besides, every city, town, municipality has laws that require rabies vaccines for any pets over 4 months of age. So no more excuses please; do what is right. Protect your pet & your community.
Tell us – have you or your pet experienced any raccoons in your area?