Rabies is a terrifying disease that can result in an agonizing death for humans and animals. Its spread is prevented through vaccination of domestic animals. Vaccinations are relatively inexpensive; overall cost depends on what vaccine you choose, who administers it, and the licensing fees required by your county and city.
Rabies is a horrible, incurable disease that kills an average of three people and hundreds of dogs and cats every year in the United States. Symptoms of rabies include severe anxiety, hallucinations and progressive paralysis resulting in death within a few days of the onset of symptoms. Vaccinating your pet is the most effective way to prevent the spread of rabies; there is no treatment for the disease once symptoms have begun.
Choosing a Vaccine
The two types of rabies vaccines are classified based on how long they are effective, one year or three. A dog or cat receiving his first rabies shot is required to get the one-year vaccine. He can get a three-year shot for all subsequent vaccinations.
Many veterinarians charge almost twice as much for the three-year shot. It is a little-known secret that the only difference between the one-year and three-year vaccines is the length of the clinical trial used to prove the vaccine's efficacy. The vaccine formula is exactly the same, and the cost of purchasing them from a veterinary supplier is about the same. Still, it is more cost-effective for pet owners to purchase the three-year vaccine, even at twice the price.
Choosing a Vaccinating Veterinarian
Rabies vaccines are available from your veterinarian, low-cost veterinary clinics and some animal shelters. Veterinarians typically charge $20 to $30 for a one-year rabies shot, and $35 to $50 for a three-year shot. Low-cost clinics and animal shelters charge anywhere from $5 to $20 for a one-year shot. Many low-cost clinics don't charge extra for the three-year.
Low-cost vaccinations are available from private low-cost vet clinics, most county animal control agencies and some nonprofit animal shelters.
Every county requires you to register your vaccinated pets and buy a rabies tag. A vaccination certificate from your veterinarian is required to get the tag. Rabies registration costs can range from $5 to $75 per year. Some counties offer discounted registration fees for those who opt for three-year vaccinations, those with neutered pets, and seniors and military personnel.
In addition to the county rabies registration, some towns also require a pet license. Fees vary from $5 for a neutered animal to up to $60 for an un-neutered animal.
- National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians: Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2011 [PDF]
- World Organisation for Animal Health: Rabies [PDF]
- Global Alliance for Rabies Control: What Is Rabies?
- Veterinary Medicine: Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2010 [PDF]
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