Why rabies vaccination is so important, even for indoor pets

We are often asked why indoor only pets must be vaccinated against rabies. For starters, it’s the law. Rabies is a fatal disease that is easily prevented with vaccination.

The virus that causes rabies is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals. In our area, the raccoon is the main carrier of the disease. However, any mammal is a potential threat, including foxes, bats, and skunks.

So why must indoor-only pets be vaccinated against rabies? Because things happen — bats get into homes through air conditioning units and raccoons climb down chimneys. While this may seem unlikely, the consequences are severe. If your animal is exposed to a potentially rabid animal and is overdue for a rabies vaccination, it is required that the animal be either euthanized or kept under a strict six-month quarantine. Domestic animals accounted for 7% of all rabid animals in the United States in 2008, and rabies is still responsible for 2-3 human deaths each year.

Rabies kills humans and it is endemic to our area. So not only is rabies vaccination required by law, it is essential in controlling the spread of this disease and paramount in keeping your family protected. Whether you have a 3-lb. Yorkie that barely leaves your lap or a 15-year-old housecat that has retired to bird-watching from the window, rabies vaccination is necessary for all pets.

For more information, visit the CDC's rabies page.