Illustration of black wolf silhouette behind red NO symbol with white text on white background.
Rabies is a virus that targets the central nervous system, and different species of animals are particularly vulnerable to specific strains of the virus. Despite this, a mammal can contract any strain; for example, a skunk can contract raccoon rabies. There are currently no approved rabies vaccines for wildlife, although in some cases animals are vaccinated in what is considered an off-label use. Although the IMRAB vaccine has been used, for example, by raccoon rabies researchers in Canada, a trap-vaccinate-release program is impractical on a large scale. The preferred method of addressing rabies in wildlife is to place an oral vaccine in bait that is left out for animals, although that strategy, too, has its limitations.
For pets, the IMRAB vaccine has been in use for over 30 years. It is approved for use in dogs, cats, ferrets, horses, cattle, and sheep. According to the manufacturer, it is descended from the world’s first rabies vaccine from Institute Pasteur-Mérieux.
In 1999, there was a proposed amendment to the Virus-Serum-Toxin Act that would broaden the definition of dog to include members of the species Canis familiaris or Canis lupus or any wolf-dog hybrid. In 2001, in response to public pressure, the proposal was withdrawn. The main concerns were that there were not adequate studies about the safety of the vaccine for wolves and wolf-dog crosses, and that the change would endorse the false idea that wolves and wolf-dog crosses are safe as pets.
Wolf and wolf-dog crosses not eligible to be added to dog vaccine labels. (2001, May 15). https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2001-06-01/wolf-and-wolf-dog-crosses-not...
County of Los Angeles Public Health . VACCINATION OF ANIMALS. Vaccination of Animals . http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/vet/rabiesmanualpdfs/anml_rabvac.pd...
Grady, W. (1994, 08). Rabies scare: a new strain of rabies is migrating north. Toronto Life, 28, 32-37.
IMRAB, world leader in rabies prevention. IMRAB rabies vaccines | Vaccinations save lives. http://vaccinateyourpet.net/imrab.