While Russell says that it is good to be aware of potentially rabid bats, skunks, and raccoons, nothing is as effective in preventing rabies as vaccination of your canine and feline pets.
“There are two types of vaccines. One protects pets for one year, the other for three years,” Russell said. “They are both great vaccines, and sometimes local ordinances or price dictates which one pet owners choose – but regardless, pets should always be routinely vaccinated against rabies.”
In addition to dogs and cats, Russell recommends vaccinating cattle and equines as well. While dogs and cats predominantly contract rabies from various wildlife species (skunks, raccoons, bats), horses and cattle most often contract rabies from skunks.
“Horses that are stalled, particularly at night, should be vaccinated,” Russell said. “We’ve seen cases of horses that contract rabies from a skunk that gets into the stall; it isn’t common, but it does happen. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to rabies. Vaccinating your animals is the best prevention.”
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.