I periodically get questions about whether rabies vaccination is really required or if it’s just a good idea. There’s not a straight answer because legal requirements vary by region. In Ontario, Regulation 567 of the Protection and Promotion Act states that all dogs and cats three months of age or older that reside in specified areas of the province must be vaccinated. Further, animals must be revaccinated by the date specified on the certificate of immunization. Basically, this means that all dogs and cats must be vaccinated and they must be up-to-date on the vaccination, based on the type of vaccine that was used.

Even if vaccination isn’t legally required, if rabies is in an area, it’s a good idea because:

  • If a pet gets rabies, it will die.
  • If a pet gets rabies, owners or other people in contact with it may need post-exposure treatment.
  • If a pet gets rabies, it could infect people with this almost invariably fatal disease.
  • If an unvaccinated pet gets exposed to rabies, it will need a strict 6-month quarantine or euthanasia. (Euthanasia is common in these situations.) If the pet was vaccinated, all it needs is a 45 day home observation.

Rabies vaccination of pets is easy, cheap and safe, and often required by law.

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