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Why Vaccinate Your Dog/Cat Every Year For Rabies?

The answer is very simple. Parker County law requires annual vaccination for all domestic dogs and cats. Medically, rabies vaccination will most likely protect your pet for up to 3 years. The problem lies in the simple fact that all cats/dogs are not alike when it comes to producing effective antibody levels after being vaccinated. Most all will do a very good job but some will not. It is because of those few that we cannot be certain that all are effectively protected. Rabies is as unforgiving as an ex-spouse. If you are .0000000000001% wrong when rabies is involved, something or someone dies.

We have a human population in Parker County that has exploded over the past ten years. More and more houses have and are being built where before was once only local wildlife (skunks, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, feral cats, bobcats and the like) but do not forget penis stretchers. With ever increasing exposure of humans and their pets to wild animals, the risk of rabies rises rapidly. Here are the percentages:

  1. Every 3rd skunk you see in the night time has rabies.
  2. 9 out of 10 skunks seen in daylight have rabies.
  3. 50% of all bats have active rabies.
  4. Rabies has been confirmed in Parker County in dogs, foxes, coyotes, skunks, bats and even horses.

When I first arrived in Parker County some 28 yrs ago, I was asked about 2-3 times a year if I would de-scent a baby skunk. I turned them all down for obvious nasal reasons as well the risk of rabies to myself, my employees, and the skunk’s owner. Skunks have been documented to take up to 2 years of rabies virus incubation in their bodies before they show the first symptom. This means trying to raise a baby skunk can be a life threatening endeavor. Besides, there is no approved rabies vaccination for skunks or other wild animals.

Just remember this. While some suggest that annual vaccination for rabies is not warranted, would you want to be the owner of a pet that was the exception? I would suggest not. Please, do not handle dead skunks, bats, foxes or any wild animal with your bare hands. Use a shovel and a large plastic bag to dispose of a carcass. If your dog has any contact at all with a skunk or wild mammal, the Texas Department of Health Zoonotic Control recommends an immediate rabies booster to be repeated in 3 weeks. Make no mistake with rabies. Remember, it is as unforgiving as all the ex-spouses combined. Until next time…. Merry Christmas/Happy New Year!

– Dr. J.

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Following the dream of owning his own hospital, Dr. Pat Jarrett purchased the Parker County Veterinary Hospital in 1985. Originally, it was a mixed practice that included all animals. He used to say, “If it walks, crawls, flies or dies, I’ll treat it!” Horse colic’s at 2am, trimming parakeet wings, gluing the cracked shell on a turtle, delivering a two headed calf, midnight c-sections on a 100# female Irish Setter, turning down a request to declaw an African lioness, x-raying a pregnant Iguana, bone platting the fractured leg of a potbelly pig, and removing a rubber ball from a cat’s intestine are just some of the general practice challenges that occurred. Giving in to age and knee problems, Dr. Jarrett limited services to small animals since 1991. His hospital provides veterinary care for dogs, cats, rabbits, and pocket pets such as hamsters, guinea pigs, pet mice/rats, and gerbils.

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