Rabies vaccination for pets have requirements that vary from state to state and can even vary within the counties and cities of a specific state. Here are the requirements for the state of Texas as printed on the Texas Department of State Health Services website (underlining and bolding for emphasis added by the Plantation Pet Health Center):
- "The state of Texas requires that dogs and cats be vaccinated against rabies by 4 months of age and on a 1 year or 3 year basis thereafter depending on the type of vaccine used.* Additionally, when traveling with a dog or cat, have in your possession a rabies vaccination certificate that was signed by a veterinarian. Check with your veterinarian about other vaccines that are available for a wide range of diseases
- All dogs and cats over 3 months of age that are being transported into Texas must have been vaccinated against rabies within the last 12 or 36 months depending on the type of vaccine used.*
- Although not required by law, it is recommended that livestock (especially those that have frequent contact with humans), domestic ferrets, and wolf-dog hybrids should be vaccinated against rabies. Again, check with your veterinarian about other available vaccines for these animals.
- For an animal to be considered currently vaccinated against rabies, at least 30 days must have elapsed since the initial vaccination and not more than 12 or 36 months (depending on the vaccine used)* can have elapsed since the last vaccination.
- * All dogs and cats must receive a second rabies vaccination within one year of receiving their first vaccination, regardless of the type of vaccine used or the age at which the animal was initially vaccinated."
This means that puppies and kittens may not be vaccinated for rabies prior to 3 months of age and must be vaccinated no later than 4 months of age (technically being off by even one day is non-compliance).
This also means that waiting to vaccinate until 12 months and 1 day or 36 months and 1 day (depending upon the type of vaccine) is non-compliance. If a 3-year vaccination lapses more than 36 months, the booster is still considered a 3 year, but the interim time is a period of non-compliance and can open one up to fines and liability issues. Regardless of 1 year or 3 year vaccine type, the first 2 vaccines must be within 1 year of each other and then the second can act as a 3 year vaccine, and continue every 3 years as long as they are given in 36 months or sooner.
Again check with local laws as the more stringent of the two takes precedence over the other. Some counties and cities require every year vaccination regardless of the state law or the type of vaccine used. The city/county of residence of the animal determines the law to be followed, not the location of the clinic giving the vaccine.
The ultimate responsibility for compliance with this law lies with the owner of the pet, not the city, county, or state government, or the veterinarian, or veterinary clinic.
Also, by law, rabies vaccine may only be administered by or under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian in the state of Texas.
Rabies Vaccination for Pets – Texas Department Of State Health Services
Rabies Infectious Disease Transmission
You can be infected with the rabies virus if you are bitten by an animal that has the disease. You can also get rabies if the saliva from a rabid animal contacts your mucous membranes or any open wounds you might have. If you have such contact with a rabid animal, only a series of shots can keep you from getting the disease. The virus travels up the nerve fibers, not through the blood, so the closer to the head that the bite occurs, the less time one has to seek treatment.
Signs Of Rabies Infection in Pets
PPHC has provided this video to demonstrate behaviorla changes in animals that are infected with the rabies virus.
- Animals that have a change in behavior.
- Wild animals that seem to be friendly or tame.
- Wild animals–coyotes, foxes, bats, skunks, and raccoons–which you do not usually see in the daytime.
- Animals that have a hard time walking, eating, or drinking.
- Excitement or meanness in animals.
- Animals that bite or scratch at an old wound until it bleeds.
Important Facts About Rabid Animals
If a pet is infected with the rabies virus, the way it acts may change. A friendly dog might want to be alone. A shy dog might want attention. Rabid dogs often become mean, roam, and make strange noises and attack people and other animals. Rabid animals may drool, and they sometimes swallow stones, sticks, or other things.
Later, as the rabid animal gets even sicker, it might have trouble chewing, swallowing, drinking or walking. It may not be able to close its mouth, and may appear to be choking. Never try to clear the throat of an animal with these signs. If you see an animal acting this way, call the local animal control agency right away.
How To Prevent Rabies Infection
- Have a veterinarian vaccinate your dogs and cats against rabies. By law, you need to do this every year or every 3 years depending on the type of vaccine used. Ask a veterinarian about the best vaccination schedule for your pet. Keeping your pets vaccinated protects you and them.
- Restrain your pets; do not allow them to roam.
- Avoid contact with wild animals and with dogs and cats you do not know. Do not approach strange dogs or cats. Do not try to hand-feed wild animals and do not keep them as pets.
- Do not touch sick or injured animals. Call and report them to an animal control officer.
It is very important that everyone, especially children, know how to prevent rabies.
What should I do if I am bitten by an animal or exposed to the saliva of a rabid animal?
If an animal bites you, follow these steps. They may save your life.
- Quickly and thoroughly wash the bite with soap and water. Rinse it well.
- See a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will decide if you need treatment to prevent rabies.
- Describe the animal that bit you-the kind, size, and color-to the doctor, local health authority, or animal control officer. Tell children to get help from a policeman, school guard, or other adult. Try to locate the animal or keep track of it if you know where it lives. Remember what it looked like.
- The local health authority needs to have the biting dog or cat tested for rabies or quarantined for 10 days. If the quarantined dog or cat is alive 10 days after the bite, it could not have given you rabies.
- Biting skunks, bats, foxes, coyotes, and raccoons must be tested for rabies. If you are bitten by another kind of animal, the local health authority will decide if it needs to be tested or observed for rabies."
Rabies virus is easily killed by exposure to sunlight, soaps, bleach and alcohol. The virus is no longer infectious once the saliva dries. However, if you suspect that you have been exposed, go see your doctor.
What Should I Do If My Pet is Bitten By an Animal Suspected To Be Rabid?
The Texas Department of Health has the following to say on that matter:
“Postexposure Rabies Prophylaxis in Animals
If a domestic animal has possibly been exposed to a rabid animal, contact your local animal control agency. There are different procedures to follow depending on whether or not the domestic animal was currently vaccinated. Although humane killing of the animal is offered as an option in either scenario, there are also vaccination and isolation protocols that are possible through Texas law. For instance, a currently vaccinated animal would receive an immediate rabies booster and would be kept in strict isolation for 45 days. However, if the animal was not currently vaccinated, it would receive a series of 3 rabies vaccinations (immediate and during weeks 3 and 8) and be kept in strict isolation for 90 days.
If a domestic animal bites a person, contact your local animal control agency. A biting domestic dog, cat, or ferret must be placed in quarantine until the end of a 10-day observation period that starts at the time of the bite incident. Bite scenarios involving other domestic animals need to be evaluated on a per incident basis.”