Rabies Vaccines in Dogs

canine rabies vaccination

Rabies is a deadly incurable disease that affects pets, including dogs.
Rabies vaccines in dogs is an important procedure that dog owners need to know about.

What Are Rabies Vaccines in Dogs?

All canine rabies vaccines licensed in the United States and Canada are inactivated (eliminated) vaccines. Traditionally, 2 consecutive doses of an inactivated vaccine, administered 2 to 4 wk apart, are needed to immunize (e.g., leptospirosis, Lyme disease, canine influenza virus).

Rabies virus vaccine is an exception. Like other inactivated vaccines, the preliminary dosage of a rabies vaccine works as the “priming” dose.

If a dog, after having actually gotten just 1 dose of rabies vaccine, is consequently exposed to virulent rabies virus, direct exposure to the virulent virus then acts as the second, or immunizing, “dosage.” Due to the fact that the beginning of signs of rabies is slow (weeks to months) following exposure there is sufficient time for a protective, humoral immune reaction to develop. For this factor, rabies infection in vaccinated dogs/cats, even among those having actually gotten a single dosage, is remarkably unusual.

Canine Rabies Vaccination in US

In places that require dogs to be vaccinated versus rabies, can a licensed vet exempt the requirement to administer a rabies vaccine if the client is ill or there is a danger that doing so may lead to an unfavorable response or otherwise cause injury to the client?

Presently a small number of states do approve point-of-care rabies vaccination exemption authority to vets. Some states/jurisdictions permit exemptions but only with the approval of a designated Public Health authorities (usually a veterinarian). Exemptions might be enabled in the event a specific dog is determined to be sufficiently ill or if rabies vaccination poses a prospective hazard to life. Health examination and medical record documents of the disease is likely to be required. It is the obligation of the owner and the vet to ensure the dog is revaccinated when or if the underlying medical condition fixes.

How Does Rabies Vaccine Work?

Rabies vaccines been available in numerous different kinds; some are good for one year, while others benefit three years. All Rabies vaccines for dogs are adjuvanted (an adjuvant is an agent included to a vaccine to assist promote the body immune system). An adjuvant helps a pet produce a more robust immune action to a vaccine. Whether a vaccine is good for one year or three depends upon the presence of an adjuvant as well as the nature of the studies run by the vaccine companies. When using an adjuvanted vaccine approved for 3 years, there is no difference as far as local laws are worried. What makes your pet’s rabies vaccination helpful for one year or 3 years is figured out by two things:

  • The animal’s age and rabies vaccine history
  • If the state and local laws require yearly vaccinations for rabies.

Dogs are first vaccinated for rabies between 3 and 6 months of age. They require a booster one year from that date. They are then usually vaccinated every three years, although some states still need yearly rabies vaccinations for dogs.

General Confusion About Vaccinations

There have been great deals of discussions (and confusion) about dog vaccinations. How frequently, what vaccinations are truly necessary, do risks exceed benefits, and so on. The requirement of take care of decades was to vaccinate dogs yearly for several typical diseases, without much “choice” about specific vaccinations or schedules. The suggestion from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and most veterinarians and is to offer core vaccines (vaccines that are considered necessary for every single dog) every three years, with cautious selection of the vaccines needed for each specific pet. A lot of lifestyle vaccines (vaccines that are provided on a case by case basis based upon a pet’s way of life) still require to be provided every year due to the nature of those specific diseases.

Rabies the Disease vs. Rabies the Vaccine

The one exception to vaccine “option” is the rabies vaccine. It is the only vaccination needed by law in the United States, as rabies is a fatal disease. It is likewise a zoonotic disease, meaning it might be transmitted from animals to people. There is no remedy for rabies. Immunizing for rabies will assist an animal mount a body immune system action to protect versus rabies, however it isn’t an alleviative treatment.

Side Effects of Rabies Vaccine in Dogs

Any pet vaccination has the potential for side effects or unfavorable responses. Preventing rabies involves administering a passive antibody by injecting human immune globulin along with a round of shots of the rabies vaccine. Injections are usually given through a dog’s skin or muscle. After immunization, moderate side effects are typical and will normally start just a couple of hours after the shot.

Typical side effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs include:

  • Swelling or firmness of the skin at the vaccination site
  • Moderate allergic reaction
  • Low-grade fever
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose

In many circumstances, if your dog has a moderate reaction to the rabies vaccine, it is absolutely nothing to worry about. If reactions are more extreme than the mild symptoms noted above, bring your pet back to the veterinarian for an examination.

If your dog had a response to the rabies vaccine, your vet will have the ability to encourage you on the best course of action for future immunizations. If your pet had a previous adverse response to the rabies vaccine, you may be able to get your vet to authorize an alternative treatment.


In rare cases, the rabies vaccine can cause a potentially lethal reaction called anaphylaxis. The condition can cause respiratory and cardiac failure in dogs and will usually appear within minutes of getting a rabies shot. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include raised heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, pale gums, seizures, hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog following a rabies vaccination, bring your pet back to the veterinarian right away. Epinephrine will be administered immediately for anaphylaxis.

Delayed Side Effects of the Rabies Vaccine in Dogs

Some delayed medical and behavioral responses to the rabies vaccine might take place, although they are rare. Delayed side effects of the rabies vaccine might start a week or more following the shot and can last much longer.

Delayed side effects of the rabies vaccine might consist of:

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Different skin problem
  • Heart issues
  • Chronic anorexia nervosa
  • Vision problems
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Lipomas (fatty growths).
  • Periodontitis (gum disease).
  • Hair loss.
  • Ongoing seizures.
  • Thyroid concerns.
  • Hostility.
  • Separation stress and anxiety.
  • Confusion.
  • Damaging behavior.

It’s important to note that these delayed side effects are not scientifically shown to be a direct result of the rabies vaccine. Other variables are at play for a number of these conditions.

How Long Do Vaccines Offer Protection?

This is the huge question. There isn’t one answer. How long a vaccine, rabies or otherwise, is “good” for, in regards to actual disease defense is still debated. The vaccine, the health of the specific and their body immune system, the disease agents, all of these factors come into play.

Titers have been promoted as a method to measure security, but this is still a topic under conversation. A titer is a blood test that measures antibody levels; the body immune system’s reminder of previous direct exposure to an infectious agent or vaccine. This is not always a procedure of how the body will respond to a new challenge with the disease agent. Titers aren’t harmful to run and do offer some information. There is a cost involved to run these test( s). In addition, rabies titers do not replace the legal need to get an updated Rabies vaccine for your pet in accordance with your local laws. Talk to your vet for their opinion and to talk about if this is a beneficial protocol for your pet.

Vaccine requirements for each pet and geographical place are various. Please speak to your vet about the finest vaccination procedure for your specific pet( s), location, and way of life.

Where is the Rabies Vaccine Injected in Dogs?

According to American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Rabies vaccinations should be given subcutaneously on the right rear limb.


If you think your dog is sick, call your vet right away. For health-related questions, always consult your vet, as they have analyzed your dog, understand the dog’s health history, and can make the very best recommendations for your dog.

References and used sources

Reyus Mammadli
Having engineering and medical education, in recent years actively engaged in the study of the development, reproduction of domestic animals. Special attention is paid to the treatment and prevention of diseases of Pets. Author of several hundred articles about health and healthy lifestyle. In recent years, he has been treating Pets and birds together with specialists. In their articles on AetaPet.com shares both his knowledge and experience, and, based on reliable sources, methods of primary diagnosis of diseases in Pets and General recommendations for their possible treatment. Of course, the articles are only informative. In each case, diagnosis and treatment should be carried out and prescribed by a qualified veterinarian.
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