What is rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease that can affect both humans and animals. The virus spreads through direct contact with the brain tissue or saliva of an animal that is infected with the disease. Humans typically become infected with this illness after being bitten by a rabid animal, often bats.
Rabies is an extremely serious condition for which there are no tests available that can detect the virus in a living animal or human that has been infected. Sadly, once symptoms begin to appear the disease is considered fatal.
Most states require by law for all dogs to be vaccinated against rabies. If your pooch isn't up to date on their rabies vaccinations and becomes bitten by an animal, state law might require strictly quarantining your dog for a long period of time, or even having them euthanized in order to protect other pets and animals.
This makes it very important to ensure that your dog's vaccinations are always kept up to date.
How often does my dog need a rabies shot?
Every state has its own laws regarding the rabies vaccine schedule for dogs. In the majority of states, puppies need to have their first rabies vaccination when they are between 14-16 weeks old followed by a booster shot one year after the first vaccine has been given.
Following this, your dog should receive a rabies booster shot every 1-3 years, based on the state's laws and the type of vaccine they have received.
Your veterinarian is the best person to tell you how often your dog should be receiving rabies booster vaccinations.
Why are rabies boosters mandatory?
Vaccinations tell the body how to recognize the disease and create an immune response that will target and destroy the virus if it enters your dog's body.
Over time, this immune response wanes and isn't as effective. Booster vaccines re-build your dog's immunity to ensure they stay protected.
Can vaccinated dogs get rabies?
Rabies vaccinations are highly effective, however, no vaccine is able to offer 100% protection. So while the risk of a vaccinated dog contracting rabies is extremely low, it is still a possibility.
The best protection is to make sure your dog's rabies vaccinations are always current and up to date.
What are the side effects of the rabies vaccine for dogs?
Lots of dogs will experience mild discomfort or swelling at the vaccination site, a slight fever, and tiredness after receiving the vaccine. This is completely normal and generally goes away after a couple of days. If the side effects linger past two days or become worse, you should call your veterinarian for additional advice on the steps to take next.
Occasionally, the injection site can remain firm and swollen for a few weeks. If the swelling persists past three weeks or gets larger, it's time to take your pup to the vet.
It's very rare for dogs to develop more serious side effects. These will typically occur within minutes to hours after receiving the vaccine and require immediate medical attention. If your dog experiences any of the following, you should take them to the closest emergency vet right away:
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Severe coughing or difficulty breathing, and even collapse
- Swelling of the muzzle and around the eyes, neck, or face
Overall, the rabies vaccine is extremely safe and an important factor in protecting the overall health of your canine companion.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.