Is a Rabies Vaccine Necessary on Vancouver Island?

As a veterinarian, I’m often asked why we recommend vaccinating for rabies when it “doesn’t exist” on Vancouver Island. When recommending vaccines in general, there are a few key factors we take into consideration including:

When it comes to rabies, there are particular reasons why we recommend vaccinating, even for pet’s who only live out their days in the Comox Valley.

Rabies is a viral disease that exists worldwide and is transmitted by bite wounds or saliva. It affects the nervous system of mammals, including humans. Humans can contract the rabies virus from a dog or cat. Once symptoms start to show, death is certain. Although the prevalence is low, rabies is present in the bat population on Vancouver Island (<1%) and in the rest of BC. We thankfully don’t have rabies in racoons, skunks or foxes like the rest of Canada. However, there is still a risk, as illustrated in 2003 when a BC resident died of rabies from contact with a rabid (infected) batIt’s a serious and deadly disease that can affect both pets and people, which is one of the reasons we often bring it to your attention.

In addition, if your travel plans include bringing your pet to a higher risk area within Canada or across an international border, an up to date rabies vaccine is required. The first vaccine which is good for 1 year can be given as early as 3 months, although we usually wait until 4 months of age. After the 1 year booster, the rabies vaccine is valid for 3 years. It is also important to know that in order to cross an international border; the rabies vaccine needs to be given greater than 30 days prior to travel, meaning that a last minute jaunt to Seattle might not be possible if your cat or dog isn’t up to date on vaccines.

Another serious reason for discussing rabies vaccination is that should your animal ever bite someone, you could be asked to provide proof of rabies vaccination. Many bite wounds in people are not the result of an aggressive animal, but typically an animal that feels cornered or suffers from anxiety and whose warnings to ‘stay away’ have been ignored. In fact, most bite wounds involve children who are too young to understand a dog or cat’s body language telling them to stop. In these scenarios, if your pet is not up to date on its rabies vaccination, you may be asked to quarantine your pet. This can be a stressful time for both the pet and pet owner which could have been avoided had your pet been vaccinated against rabies.

Prevention is the best medicine, and by keeping your pets’ rabies vaccination up to date, you are helping to keep the prevalence of rabies in our beautiful area of Canada low.

Submitted by Dr. Alana Parisi – Van Isle Veterinary Hospital.


Get a Cupcake and Support BC Animals in Need During Treat Week (Feb 24 - Mar 1, 2020)

Van Isle Veterinary Hospital is super excited to be hosting our 4th annual cupcake day fundraiser! BCSPCA celebrates “Treat Week” across the Province from Feb 24th – March 1st 2020 where business, pet owners and animal lovers can bake up a storm and sell treats with the proceeds going to BC animals in need.

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Last updated: March 30, 2021

Dear Clients,

With recent changes to restrictions on businesses, we are pleased to advise that effective May 25, 2020 the restrictions on veterinary practices have been lifted. Based on these changes, below are some important updates to our operating policies.


This includes vaccines, wellness exams, blood work, spays and neuters, dental services, and more!

As you can imagine, we have a significant backlog of surgeries and wellness/vaccine exams to catch up on and we will be working hard over the next several weeks to do just that. We want to thank everyone in advance for your patience while we work through this. Although restrictions have been lifted, our health and safety protocols have not. It is important we continue to follow the guidelines set out by Worksafe BC and social distance our large team as much as possible. This means although we can offer these elective services, we are doing much fewer during the day then we were pre-COVID.


We are very excited to welcome you back into our lobby! We have put some important safety measures in place to help keep our clients and our team safe.


The use of our online store for easy ordering, payment and delivery of our pet's food, flea and tick medications. Orders over $100 can be delivered to your home for free! CLICK HERE


During the first 8 weeks of COVID, we were operating as a 24-hour facility to better serve our community and to maintain social distancing within our team. However, as the COVID-19 situation changes, so do we!

Our team of doctors felt it was important to get back to performing your pet's much needed regular services. In order to do so safely, we had to once again change the way we do business. 

As such, effective October 6, 2020, we will no longer be available for after-hours, on call services between midnight and 7:00 am. After-hours emergency care will be referred to Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital between the hours of midnight - 7:00 am. They can be reached at 250-933-0913.

We will continue to be available until midnight for your call-in, after hours needs.

Our regular hours of operation remain the same:

Monday - Friday: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm

Saturday & Sunday: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm

Thank you for your patience and understanding, and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

- Your dedicated team at Van Isle Veterinary Hospital