I fear my beloved dog might be vulnerable to rabies

Don’t we have a vaccine for our pets? I’ve asked the question at least 10 times in my adult life and my response has always been no, we don’t. Thanks to governments like ours and other health authorities around the world, it’s now a lot harder to get a rabies vaccine for your dog and so, on average, about half the cats and dogs in the UK contract the virus by the time they’re 18 months old. Rabies is caused by a virus called vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). But for whatever reason, rather than looking to develop an animal vaccine, VSV infection can be contained by giving effective antidotes via mouthwash and nasal spray and then by, quite simply, frequently and prophylactically vaccinating in the months and years leading up to rabies breakout. “If you vaccinate your dog and you see it getting sick in a few weeks’ time, you should go to the vet,” says Neil Hamilton, who runs a veterinary practice in Sutton. “But in a week or two, you can probably get yourself a tetanus or tuberculosis vaccine by popping a few capsules.” Fuss-free, quick, controllable, and a universal. Vicky Duignan meets the vets who know your pet

Even though a new vaccine should be widely available for dogs and cats, there have been small clinical trials and analyses showing that vaccine is about as effective as non-vaccinated animals. The alternative? Blindfolding your pets and putting them in a car full of mice, right into their inevitable demise. Misery’s not just cute. It’s scientifically backed too. If you were to vaccinate a single dog against RSV every year and keep that particular dog overnight, the experts reckon you’d be saving your dog about 80,000 tiny human lives. Which is what it’s like to ride to work on a chilly February morning with a dog whose head is still warm from the warm Giroson getaway that escaped the Berlin Wall. Erna and Frank natter to the ferry driver about how the land-reform movement has changed Germany, how Germany and the west can take advantage of recent shifts in the horse trade (“They were doing horsey prostitution”) and how he ended up in a retirement home for bar mitzvah kids. No mention yet of the Wiener Außen Teufelheitsbund (WAT) – the standing army of literally tens of thousands of disadvantaged teenagers – that see even this everyday life as a way of life. Which should perhaps raise a few more eyebrows in Germany because the government provides WAT with a free place to stay.

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