Rabies Found in Colorado Animals

Dr. Heather Toyne

Is Rabies REALLY in Colorado?

Rabies has been diagnosed in 45 animals in Colorado just this year! Most rabid animals were skunks but a llama right here in Douglas County was diagnosed as well. Last year, 165 animals were diagnosed with rabies in Colorado – a little over half were skunks but there were also many bats, several foxes, 1 raccoon and 1 coyote and 2 dogs. I feel like a lot of people think of this as a disease of the past (think “Old Yeller”) or of poor countries. But it is right here, right now!

Common carriers of Rabies

How Can We Prevent the Spread of Rabies?

Because the disease is common and deadly, it is important to know how to prevent it. Rabies is transmitted by bites from infected animals. The best defense against this disease is to vaccinate pets against this disease and avoid wild animals. Vaccines are actually required by law for all dogs and cats. If your pet comes in contact with a skunk or other wild animal, precautions will be recommended for your pet. If your pet is vaccinated, the precautions will be minimal such as monitoring your pet at home and boostering their rabies vaccine. If your pet is not current on their rabies vaccine, or worse, if they have never received a vaccine, more serious precautions will be required by the health department such as a lengthy quarantine in an approved facility (which is expensive) or even euthanasia.

What About “Indoor-Only” Pets?

Keeping your dog or cat exclusively indoors or just inside their yard does not mean they are exempt from the vaccine. Accidents happen – wildlife do not respect fences, pets escape, bats have even been found inside homes. Rabies vaccines are given first as a puppy or kitten, then one year later, then they only have to be boostered every 3 years in Colorado (unless lapses occur, in which case a 1-year vaccine will be given).

If you are unsure of your pet is current on his/her rabies vaccine, we would be happy to check their records for you. Call us at 303-841-8833 or use the Pet Portal for 24/7 access to your pet’s vaccination information.