By: Sylvia Dickens
August 2008
Dog health care must include regular rabies shots, although many dog owners do not keep their pets’ vaccinations up to date. The misconception is that since the dog doesn’t run free, it’s not important.

Even though you keep your dog restrained on a leash or in a yard, you can never guarantee he will not come in contact with this deadly disease.

Did you know that your dog can pick up the rabies virus simply by licking the ground? If a rabid animal has left saliva or other body fluid shortly before you passed, your dog is at risk.

Much of the focus for many owners is on obedience training. Dog health care is often only an issue when the dog first arrives at the home or when it becomes ill.

Rabies shots are essential if you want to ensure your dog stays healthy. But that’s not the only reason. If your dog comes in contact with a rabid animal, such as fighting with a raccoon, skunk or an infected dog, your pet could be euthanized.

And if that isn’t enough to get you to the vet, consider that rabies is a threat to your family as well.

What can you do to protect your dog and your family?

Rabies vaccines gradually lose their effectiveness over time. The longer it is since your dog was vaccinated, the more at risk he or she will become. In fact, within as a little as six months, your dog could be at risk. The maximum length of time the vaccine lasts is about two years, but by that time it’s effectiveness has deteriorated significantly.

Many people use this two-year point as the period when they give their dogs booster rabies shots. This is an unsafe practice.

For the best protection, you must have your dog vaccinated every year. Any good vet will send you a reminder every year that your dog’s shots are due.

Dog health care is important, but preventative health care is more important. It ensures your dog is protected against dangerous and painful diseases. Rabid animals suffer terribly. The disease affects their entire nervous system causing death. There is no cure.

Regular dog health care measures can protect your family from the rigors of taking the ‘cure’ if your dog does come in contact with the rabies virus.

And rabies dog health care can save your dog’s life.

Recently, two dogs in North Carolina suffered after fighting with a rabid fox. One was quarantined for 6 months, the other was euthanized. That state also had a cat and a raccoon that were rabid.

You can never be sure when rabies will be present. Infected neighborhood cats, raccoons and skunks can wander into any yard without your knowledge and leave rabies-laden saliva.

If you seldom hear about rabies, do not think that your dog is safe. Every year somewhere in the country there are reported cases of rabies in wild animals. Unprotected dogs have been euthanized after fighting with those rabid animals.

Protection is far better than treatment after the fact. There is no reason for your family or your dog to suffer. It takes about 15 minutes a year to get your dog vaccinated against rabies and other serious diseases.

Make sure your dog health care includes regular rabies vaccines to ensure your dog’s and your family’s safety.
Want to know more important about your dog’s health care? Sylvia has written a book on dog health care and dog nutrition.