Health Department

Rabies and Microchipping

Rabies and Microchipping
by Larry D. Jones, MPH, Health Director
June 24, 2014

 Many of us think of our pet as another member of our family. To keep them safe and healthy, it is very important to stay current with vaccinations. You should also get your pet microchipped to buy a little peace of mind knowing your pet can be returned to you in case he becomes lost or stolen. 

 Keeping your pet up to date with vaccinations is not only essential for the prevention of rabies and other diseases, it’s the law.  According to Independence City Code, all dogs and cats over six months of age must have the rabies vaccine. Vaccinating your pet not only protects him from getting rabies, it protects him if he bites someone. 

 Rabies is a virus that can affect the brain and spinal cord of all mammals, including dogs, cats and humans.According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals(ASPCA), the disease has been reported in every state except Hawaii, and everywhere throughout the world except for Australia and Antarctica. Once symptoms appear, the disease results in fatality.

 Since animals that have rabies secrete large amounts of the virus in their saliva, the disease is primarily passed through a bite from an infected animal. It can also be transmitted through a scratch or when infected saliva makes contact with an open, fresh wound. The most common carriers of the rabies virus in this country are bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes.

 Initially, an animal that has become infected may show extreme behavioral changes such as restlessness, apprehension or aggression. A fever may also be present at this stage. As the virus progresses, an infected dog may become hypersensitive to touch, light and sound. They may eat unusual things and hide in dark places. Paralysis of the throat and jaw muscles may follow, resulting in foaming at the mouth.Disorientation, in coordination and staggering may occur. 

 The virus usually incubates from two to eight weeks before signs are noticed. However, transmission of the virus through saliva can happen as early as 10 days before symptoms appear. There is no treatment or cure for rabies once symptoms appear. 

 Another important aspect to keeping your pet healthy is to keep them home. Each year, thousands of pets become lost or are stolen. Did you know that one in three pets will get lost during their lifetime? Ten million pets get lost every year, without ID, and 90 percent of lost pets never return home. Microchipping is the best way to permanently identify your pet and increase the chance that if lost or stolen, it will be reunited with your family. 

A microchip is a permanent method of electronic identification.The chip itself is about the size of a grain of rice and is implanted just under the skin between the shoulder blades. This is done as an injection and is nearly pain free for your animal. 

 Each chip has a unique number that is detected using a microchip scanner. The microchip number is recorded in a microchip database registry with details about the animal and owner. Pet owners’ contact details are recorded on the database against their pet’s microchip number. Should your pet stray or become lost;vets, animal shelters and local councils can scan your pet for a microchip and contact you via the database. 

It is very important to keep your contact details up to date in the microchip database so that if you move or change your phone number you will still be contactable in the event of your pet becoming lost. 

 For more information on microchipping or the rabies vaccination, call Independence Animal Services at 816-325-7205.