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Are we over-vaccinating our pets?

March 3, 2009 - Amy Jo Hanna-Eckenrode
We want to be responsible pet owners as much as we want what is best for our pets.
In most states dog’s are required to receive a rabies vaccination every year among others. Yet, the rabies vaccine is also known to have some of the most dangerous side effects for pets.

Recently, French researchers have proven that one rabies vaccination gives dogs immunity for 7+ years.
Since this finding, a few states, most recently Arkansas, are updating and passing new laws to extend rabies vaccination schedules for dogs and cats. Arkansas law now requires the vaccine to be administered every three years instead of annually.

We certainly don’t want to jeopardize the health or welfare of any person or animal but we may just be doing so anyway by over-immunizing our pets.
This is a worthwhile discussion to have with your veterinarian to learn his/her current level of knowledge about this new research and findings. 

I consider my vet (and entire Metzger Animal Hospital) to be one of the finest in the nation. Dr. Griffiths recommended not even giving my Jesse a rabies or any other vaccine after she reached the age of 12. He said it was not necessary and the side effects could be hard on her than beneficial. (I never doubted him).

Like so many prescribed human medications, I tend to think we were led to believe that annual rabies shots were necessary to protect against this virus,  when, in fact, it was just another easy revenue-producing product for pharmaceutical companies who rely on consumer ignorance and faith and dependence in the medical/pharmaceutical fields.

Lesson 101:
* Rabies is a viral zoonotic neuroinvasive disease is contracted by the bite of an infected animal. The disease makes it way to the brain by following the nervous system, causing acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). It can affect humans and animals (mammals). If left untreated it is usually fatal.

* Hats off to Louis Pasteur and Emile Roux who developed the vaccine in 1885 (from infected rabbits).

* Wildlife, farm animals, dogs, cats and humans can contract the rabies virus. Rabies is not super common in the US and was once rare in most of the US. Raccoons have been suffering a rabies epidemic in the mid-Atlantic and NE US since the ‘70s. Skunks are the primary carriers in the Midwest. The most widely distributed reservoir of rabies in the US, and the source of most human cases in the U.S. are bats.

Photo: Patient, with rabies, 1959 (Wikipedia)
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