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Pets, Vaccinations, and Rabies

Topic Overview

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 state 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.

Exotic pets

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.
  • Monkeys.

If you have questions about local rabies issues, contact your local health department. If you will be traveling with your pet, check with your vet about the protection your animal needs and the risk your animal has for getting rabies.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Last Revised August 27, 2012

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