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Important information every dog owner needs to know about rabies in Hong Kong
The Disease

Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that can infect any warm-blooded animal. It is passed on through saliva from a bite from an infected animal. The virus travels up the nerves to the brain. Before it reaches the brain the infected animal shows no disease signs except perhaps some itchiness at the site of original infection. If infection is suspected and treated at this stage recovery is possible. Once it reaches the brain and causes the classical signs of rabies, death always occurs. There is no treatment for clinical rabies.

Rabies affects its victims in one of two ways.

  • Dull form. Animals become very dull and sleepy
  • Aggressive form Animals become agitated, disorientated and aggressive. The aggressive form is the most common type seen in dogs, hence the popular name of ‘Mad Dog Disease’.

Humans affected by the disease get extremely painful muscle cramps all over the body. Often they are afraid to drink because they cannot control the swallowing action and the water goes into the lungs instead of the stomach. This is the cause of the “fear of water”. Eventually the breathing muscles become paralysed and the victim dies.

The Law in Hong Kong

There have been no cases of Rabies in Hong Kong for many years. It is important that every effort is made to keep the territory rabies free. The key points of the legislation that concern dog owners are as follows.

  • Every dog in Hong Kong over five months must be vaccinated against rabies and implanted with a microchip.
  • The rabies vaccine must be repeated every three years throughout the life of the dog.
  • The Rabies vaccination and microchip is registered with the AFCD and a dog license is issued in the name of the owner of the dog.
  • If the ownership of the dog changes the old owner and new owner should co-ordinate to inform the AFCD about the change of ownership.
  • It is illegal to abandon your dog.

It is also a legal requirement for every puppy to be implanted with a microchip before it is put up for sale in a pet shop. There is no legal requirement to have cats vaccinated or microchipped in Hong Kong. However it is usually necessary to do so if you are exporting your cat to another country. Hung Hom Veterinary Clinic can do this for you.

The Microchip

The microchip is a tiny piece of hypoallergenic plastic, about the size of a grain of rice, embedded with a number that can be read with a scanner. It does not contain your name, address or any of your personal details – just a number. It is completely passive and does not emit any radio signal. When a reader or scanner is passed over the microchip it “reflects back” a signal containing the chip’s unique number. The chip is put under the skin by injection once and will last through the dog’s life.

The Vaccine

Modern rabies vaccines are extremely safe and effective. The vaccine is made from harmless dead virus material. One single injection will protect the dog for at least three years. It can be used in puppies as young as three months of age. The vaccine has been used in literally millions of dogs throughout the world for many years. As with any other vaccination, allergic reactions can occur but these are extremely rare.

What should you do?

All you have to do is make an appointment by calling us 2330 7566. At HHVC we will do all the necessary procedures and paperwork for you.

If you get a new puppy bring it to us for a new puppy health checkWe will examine the puppy to make sure it is healthy, check to see if it has a microchip and advise you what vaccines it needs and when the rabies vaccine best fits into the puppy vaccination schedules. If it does not have a microchip we will give it one at the same time as we give the rabies vaccine.

If you acquire an adult dog we will scan it for you to see if it already has a microchip and examine any documents to see if it has had a rabies vaccine and if the rabies vaccine and other vaccines is up to date. If it has no microchip we will give it one and vaccinate it against rabies at the same time so long as we think the dog is healthy.

We will register the Microchip Number with AFCD and apply for the dog license on your behalf. When the AFCD issues the license (which can take up to three months) they send it back to the clinic so you can collect it at your convenience.

If you have any questions about rabies, microchipping, your legal responsibilities or the licensing system do not hesitate to call us at HHVC. We ARE always happy to answer your questions!

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