Rabies is a serious and often fatal disease when contracted by any mammal, including our beloved pets. This is why prevention is the key defense against the rabies virus. Here, our Little Rock veterinarians share the best rabies vaccine schedule for your dog and why it is important to follow it.
What are rabies?
Rabies is a very serious viral disease that can infect all mammals, including domestic pets, wildlife and humans. It is contracted when one comes in contact with the saliva or brain tissue of an infected animal.
There is no known cure for rabies. There are no tests that can be done on a living person or animal to tell if they are infected with rabies, and once the symptoms develop, it is almost always fatal.
The majority of states require dog vaccinations. If your dog is not up to date on their rabies vaccine and is bitten by an animal, state law may require your pet to be quarantined for an extended period of time or even euthanized to protect other pets and people.
For these reasons, it is vital to keep your dog's vaccinations up to date.
How often does my dog need a rabies shot?
The mandatory rabies vaccination schedule for dogs varies by state. In most states, your puppy will receive his or her first vaccination between the ages of 14 and 16 weeks, followed by a booster shot one year later.
After that, your dog should receive a rabies booster every 1 to 3 years.
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.
If you're worried about how much a rabies shot for dogs will cost, contact your vet to get an estimate and find out about payment options.
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 over the course of their life.
Are there any side effects of the vaccine?
Tenderness around the vaccination site, tiredness, and grogginess are common side effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs. This is completely normal and usually goes away after a day or two. Consult your veterinarian if the side effects last more than two days or worsen.
Occasionally, the injection site can remain firm and swollen for a few weeks. If the swelling persists past three weeks or gets larger, it is time to take your pup to the vet.
Side effects are not common, but if you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog after their vaccine, contact your vet right away:
- 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. If you feel your dog is acting weird after a rabies shot, contact your vet.
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.