Rabies is a life-threatening disease. The best way to protect your dog and your family from rabies are to have them vaccinated. Our Poway veterinarians explain more about this important vaccine today, including when your dog should get a booster shot.
What is rabies?
Rabies is a virus that can affect humans and animals alike. The virus is spread through direct contact with an infected animal's saliva or brain tissue. This disease is typically transmitted to humans by being bitten by a rabid animal.
Rabies is a life-threatening disease. There are no tests that can be performed on a living person or animal to determine if they are infected, and the disease is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.
In the majority of states, vaccination of dogs is required by law. State law may require your dog to be quarantined for a long time or even put down if it hasn't received their rabies vaccination and is bitten by an animal in order to protect other animals and people.
This is why it's essential to keep your dog's vaccinations current.
How often does my dog need to be vaccinated for rabies?
States have different canine rabies vaccination requirements. When your puppy is between 14 and 16 weeks old, it will typically receive its first vaccination, followed by a booster shot a year later.
After that, your dog should receive a rabies booster every 1-3 years, depending on state law and the type of vaccine used.
Your veterinarian is your best resource for how often your pup should receive booster vaccinations.
Why are rabies boosters required?
Vaccinations tell the body how to recognize the disease and create an immune response that will target and destroy the virus should it enter 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 a vaccinated dog get rabies?
Rabies vaccinations are very effective, but no vaccine can guarantee 100% protection. So while the risk of a vaccinated dog contracting rabies is extremely low, it is still a possibility.
The best prevention is to keep up to date on your dog’s rabies vaccines throughout their life.
Are there any side effects of the vaccine?
Aside from a slight fever and exhaustion following the vaccination, many dogs also experience mild pain or swelling at the injection site. This is entirely typical and usually goes away within a day or two. Your veterinarian should be consulted if the side effects persist for more than two days or get worse.
For a few weeks after the injection, the injection site may be firm and swollen. It's time to take your dog to the vet if the swelling lasts longer than three weeks or gets worse.
Your dog may experience more serious side effects in rare cases. These usually happen within minutes to hours of receiving the vaccine and necessitate prompt medical attention. If your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms, you should take them to the nearest emergency veterinarian as soon as possible:
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Swelling of the muzzle and around the face, neck, or eyes
- Severe coughing or difficulty breathing, and even collapse.
Overall, the rabies vaccine is extremely safe and an important factor in maintaining your pet's overall health.
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.