Jun 26, 2019

Rabies Vaccines & Heartworm Meds: Some Routine Medical Tips for Your Dog in Japan

After living in Japan for many years, I sometimes forget how difficult it was first starting out here.  It's easy to take for granted some of the things that have now become routine, but it wasn't always that way for me.

Since it was tough for me the first time around, I thought I'd share a few tips on taking care of your dog here in country.  I'll start with two things that are annual traditions now: Rabies shots and Heartworm medication.

Rabies shots

If you have a dog in Japan, the rabies vaccination is required annually and must be registered with the city office.  You'll need to travel to your local vet and fill out a slip of paper with the following items:

- Your Name

- Address

- Signature

- Dog's Name

- Dog's Breed

- Dog's Birthday

- Dog's Sex

For about 3000-6000 yen (depending on your vet), your dog will get the rabies vaccine, and you'll get something that should look like this:  

Rabies Vaccines & Heartworm Meds: Some Routine Medical Tips for Your Dog in Japan photo

The envelope will contain your receipt and/or signed proof of vaccination, and the tags are meant to go on your dog's collar (though I've never seen that enforced).  Just be sure you have these tucked away somewhere safe for record-keeping.

Again, you'll need to do this every year to ensure that your dog's records are up-to-date.

Heartworm medication

Another annual medical task for your dog is getting heartworm medication.  Heartworm is a serious issue in Japan given the high population of mosquitoes, especially this time of year during rainy season.

In order to prescribe your dog heartworm medication, your vet will first need to do a quick blood test to ensure s/he does not have heartworm already (hopefully that's not the case!)  

After the test, you'll be able to choose from a variety of different heartworm medications.  There is an annual shot, a liquid variety, and a dog-treat variety.  Some options include protections beyond heartworm such as other types of insect-borne illnesses.  My dog doesn't spend a lot of time outside (he's a Shih Tzu--not really bred for the great outdoors), but if you have an outdoor dog, you will probably want to go for the options with added protection.

Me, I opted for the treat kind solely for Heartworm, and this is what I brought home:

Rabies Vaccines & Heartworm Meds: Some Routine Medical Tips for Your Dog in Japan photo

There is a slip showing that my dog does not currently have heartworm, and you can see the meds right next to it.

To note, in Japan, it is not really necessary to have heartworm medication year-round because of mosquito life-cycles here.  The most important period for heartworm medication is summer time, especially immediately following the rainy season.



Hitting the books once again as a Ph.D. student in Niigata Prefecture. Although I've lived in Japan many years, life as a student in this country is a first.

Blessed Dad. Lucky Husband. Happy Gaijin (most of the time).