When a strange dog comes around me, it makes me very nervous, not because I don’t adore dogs, because I do, but there are other, more practical reasons why — reasons having to do with self-preservation. You know nothing about a strange dog when she comes around ‘unless’ she is wearing her tags, most importantly her rabies tag.
Let’s delve into the subject of dogs and rabies tags and see what kind of information we can uncover.
Does my dog need to wear her rabies tag?
For whatever reason, some people don’t think dogs should have to wear rabies tags or ID tags on their collars, but is it important? If so, why is it important? Let’s look.
In most places, it is the law that you must have current rabies and ID tags on your dog’s collar when she is in public; plus, if she gets lost, an ID tag will help you get her back.
Your dog should wear a collar at all times. Her collar should have attached to it not only an ID tag but a rabies vaccination tag, as well. Also, attached should be any county or city licenses that are required where you live.
As her owner, you should attach your name, phone number, and address, if it will fit, but often, there’s not enough room for a complete address on a rabies tag. Also, many don’t like advertising to everyone where they live. Some put their name, a phone number, and alternate phone numbers to ensure contact.
Whether you should put your pet’s name on her tags or not is a matter that is heavily debated. Some say it may make your dog feel too comfortable with an ill-intentioned stranger if they know what her name is and thus, can call her by it.
In most places, it is a legal requirement that all dogs wear a collar in public with, at minimum, a rabies tag. Also putting an ID tag on her collar will help you get your dog back if she ever gets lost.
If your dog gets lost but has on her current rabies and ID tags, a stranger will be more likely to believe she is free from zoonotic diseases and approach her to read her ID tags to find your contact information.
Zoonotic diseases are dangerous, and while most can be cured, that is not true with all diseases that at least started out as zoonotic disease, such as HIV, Ebola, and Covid-19.
What are zoonotic diseases and which ones are you likely to catch from a stray dog?
Zoonotic disease is terrifying, and that is why people are so careful around stray dogs. Here are the facts.
What are zoonotic diseases?
Zoonotic diseases (zoonoses) are diseases that spread not only from dog to dog but from dog to human. They are caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. They can cause extreme illness of many types, even death. They can be spread even from a dog who appears perfectly healthy.
These diseases are spread around the world. It is estimated that greater than 6 of 10 infectious diseases that we know of in people can spread through contact with animals, and 3 of 4 emerging infectious diseases found in people are contracted from animals.
What zoonotic diseases am I likely to catch from an infected stray dog?
Most “stray” dogs don’t have a home. These dogs are not cared for and probably haven’t been vaccinated. So, of course, there is a good chance they will carry and can transfer to your dog, or to you, ticks, fleas, ear mites, heartworm, hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, tapeworm, or coccidia.
You may see symptoms, such as coughing, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, potbelly, dull coat, and excessive scratching.
These are more zoonotic diseases you and your dog can contract from stray dogs.
A dog usually contracts distemper from a bite by a wild animal, like a raccoon, skunk, fox, or wolf. Distemper is a disease that is highly contagious. Humans can easily get distemper but usually show no symptoms at all.
Symptoms in your dog will be red eyes, fever, runny nose, and lethargy, followed by possible vomiting and diarrhea, which will cause the dog to take on an anorexic look. The pads of her feet may also enlarge.
Dogs get leptospirosis from being in streams, rivers, and lakes. While some dogs exhibit no signs whatsoever, others will have shivering, fever, thirst, inflamed eyes, tender muscles, and jaundice.
Dogs contract rabies from a bite by a wild animal that is infected. Foxes, raccoons, skunks, bats, and wolves that are infected will exhibit symptoms, such as seizures, fever, clumsiness, dropped jaw, frothy saliva, and either extreme shyness or extreme aggression.
Rabies can be extremely deadly for people with HIV or AIDS, pregnant women, the elderly, organ and bone marrow recipients, radiation and chemotherapy patients, and other at-risk people.
You should never let your dog be out in public without wearing her rabies tag and ID tag on her collar. She needs her ID tag in case she gets lost, and she needs her rabies tag to let others know she is vaccinated against this terrible disease.
If your dog has on her rabies and ID tags, others will be more likely to pick her up and take her to safety until they can contact you.
If a stray dog comes up to you, there are three things you need to know about her that you have no way of knowing: how she was wired when she was born, who reared her, how her temperament turned out as a combination of the two, and whether she is sick with a zoonotic disease or not.
Therefore, all you have to go on is the state she is in, the way she is acting, and whether she is wearing a collar with a current rabies tag and an ID tag.
If your dog is wearing her rabies tag and gets into some situation where she bites someone, involved parties will be aware that she has been vaccinated for rabies.
You should always keep your current rabies tag attached to your dog’s collar to protect both her and her victim, in case she were to ever bite someone. Otherwise, the victim must be treated for rabies, and your dog must be quarantined for a long period or even euthanized. People are afraid of rabies, as it is a very debilitating disease.
If your dog is wearing her rabies tag whenever she is in public, it can save you from having to pay expensive fines for not abiding by your state’s laws.
Laws for dogs wearing their rabies tags are different from state to state. To find out what the laws are in your state, you can go to the Rabies Laws by State page of the PowerShotsMN website. Despite what the laws are in your state, it is still a good idea to sport your dog’s rabies and ID tags on her collar. You can look here to see the rabies laws for your state.
What should I do with my dog’s rabies tag?
Your dog’s new rabies tag should be put on her collar along with her ID tag.
You should remove the older rabies tags from her collar. It would be very easy for someone to get confused between multiple tags. Some rabies vaccinations are only good for one year, and others are good for three years.
Do I have the option of keeping my dog’s rabies tag with the vaccine paperwork or my keys?
It is not a good idea at all to keep your dog’s newest rabies tag on your keychain or with her vaccination paperwork. While it is true that this may be a good way to keep up with the tag, it is also true that it is a much better idea to keep her rabies tag on her collar. Besides, in many, even most, states, that is what’s lawful.
The reason for this is safety. This is to ensure that when you see a dog in public, you will have some idea of how to react to it. For instance, if the dog is happy, wagging her tail, acting in a non-threatening manner, and is wearing a collar with ID and rabies tags, it is probably safe to approach the dog carefully to get a look at her ID tag, so you can try to return her to her owner.
On the other hand, if the dog is clumsy but acting aggressive and has frothy saliva but no collar, you should know not to approach the dog. You should immediately contact animal control to pick up the dog making sure to inform them she is showing signs of rabies.
It is also important for your dog, because if she should get lost and gets into a situation where she is so afraid that she bites someone, that rabies tag may save her life. If the authorities fear that a dog may have rabies, the dog is at least quarantined for a while, but often they are put to death.
Now, you can keep all your dog’s old vaccination tags with your paperwork, but you don’t need to keep them. The current one is all that matters. A new tag is issued each time she is newly vaccinated, which will be either every year or every three years, depending on which type of vaccine you choose to get for her.
How do I get a new rabies tag for my dog?
The easiest way to get a new rabies tag for your dog is to take a trip to see the veterinarian who gave her the rabies vaccination. He will have a record of it in her chart and will have no problem stamping you a new rabies tag. There may be a nominal fee, however.
If you have moved, though, or if your veterinarian has retired from his practice, you can go to another veterinarian and get a replacement rabies tag. You will need a current vaccination certificate. Without a valid certificate, she may have to get vaccinated again to get a new tag and certificate.
What do you do if you lose your dog’s rabies tag?
If you lose your dog’s rabies tag, you should first try to contact the vet who administered the vaccination to get a replacement. If you don’t remember who administered the shot or if they have retired, as long as you have the paperwork, you should be able to go to any local veterinarian and get a replacement tag for a nominal fee.
If you don’t remember who gave the vaccination or the vet who gave it has retired, and you no longer have the paperwork, your dog will probably have to be vaccinated again for you to receive a current rabies tag.