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Rabies Vaccination for Dogs

Rabies Vaccination
Rabies Vaccination Dogs


What is Rabies?

Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease which affects dogs and other mammals. If your dog becomes infected with the rabies virus a range of severe neurological symptoms will cause death.

How can my dog contract the Rabies Virus?

Rabies is transmitted by the body fluids of an affected animal. Animals that commonly carry rabies include mammals such as bats, foxes, and raccoons. Domestic animals like dogs and cats as well as people are most commonly exposed by being bitten by an affected animal.



About the Rabies Vaccine

Because rabies is fatal, vaccinating against it has been regulated by state legislatures. Your veterinarian’s recommendations for rabies vaccination will reflect your state’s laws.

Rabies vaccines come labeled as effective for 1 year or 3 years. The vaccine itself is the same. The only difference is the label. A vaccine labeled as good for only 1 year will not, by law, be considered good for longer than that period. It does not legally matter that it is the same vaccine as the 3 year vaccine.

Common negative reactions dogs have to rabies vaccines include soreness at the site of injection, a bump at the site of injection, hair loss at the site of injection, lethargy for 24 hours after the injection, mild gastro-intestinal upset for 24 hours after the injection, hives, and facial swelling. Rarely dogs can have a severe anaphylactic reaction to the rabies vaccine which requires immediate veterinary attention. As a veterinary technician for over 10 years, I have only seen 1 dog have such a severe reaction. The dog recovered fully.

Does my dog need the Rabies Vaccine?

 Find out about the risk level in your area. You can contact your local health department as well as your veterinarian to find out how common rabies is in your area. The CDC in the United States publishes incidence rates for rabies annually. Here is an example:

Next find out what your state and local requirements are legally for vaccination. In the United States, most states require puppies be vaccinated once with rabies around 4 months of age, boostered 12 months later, and then boostered every 3 years thereafter. In a few localities rabies vaccines are required annually.

In rabies-free countries, you are not required to vaccinate your dog against rabies. 
List of Rabies Free Countries

Should I give my dog a rabies vaccine?

Generally it is wise to protect our dogs against fatal diseases, particularly if they are zoonotic (able to be passed from our pets to human) like the rabies virus. Healthy dogs should generally be vaccinated according to law. Dogs with health problems precluding vaccination such as diseases of the immune system, cancer, certain infections, or extreme old age should be vaccinated with caution. This means you should carefully discuss the risks of vaccination with your veterinarian. I recommend finding out if a waiver is accepted by law in your locality. This means with a waiver, they could not require your dog be euthanized for rabies testing. They would only require your dog to be quarantined


NEXT:   DHPP vaccine

Other Vaccines: Kennel Cough Vaccine - Leptospirosis Vaccine - Lyme Disease Vaccine

About Dog Vaccinations

Author: Jackie Nelson

Kennel Cough - Symptoms and Treatment 

Distemper - Symptoms, treatment and prognosis



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