Dr Platzhund answers a question from a reader who’s concerned about vaccinating her dogs against rabies as she travels a lot with them around the country.
Q: Since I often travel around the country with my three dogs, should I get them vaccinated against rabies?
A: Rabies is fatal to humans once symptoms have developed. So vaccinating your pets against the disease protects you, your family, your community and your pets. Rabies is a painful death and you don’t need to be bitten to contract it – a dog carrying this disease needs to only lick an open wound on your hand and your life is at risk. Carriers of the disease vary from province to province. In Mpumalanga, it’s the jackal, in KwaZulu-Natal, it’s domestic dogs, and in the Kalahari and Karoo, it’s the yellow mongoose. An animal’s temperament changes once symptoms of rabies develop. A domestic animal will appear to be in a rage and a wild animal can become tame and subdued. It’s important that all puppies and kittens are vaccinated – it’s a law in this country. Consult your vet for the appropriate inoculation regime. It’s not expensive to do, but life-threatening if ignored. You also require proof of vaccination when travelling around the country with pet cats and dogs.