Rabies is an easily transmitted and fatal virus that can not only be passed to your dog but your pup can also pass to other animals and members of your family. Today our Charlotte vets talk about why your dog should receive the life-saving rabies vaccine and what the vaccination schedule looks like.
What is the rabies virus?
Rabies is a viral disease that can affect both humans and animals. The virus is transmitted via direct contact with the saliva or brain tissue of an infected animal. In people, this disease is usually transmitted through being bitten by a rabid animal.
Rabies is a serious disease. There are no tests that can be done on a living person or animal to tell if they are infected and once symptoms appear the disease is almost always fatal.
Most states require by law that dogs be vaccinated. If your pup is not up to date on their rabies vaccine and gets bitten by an animal state law may require that your pet is strictly quarantined for a lengthy period of time or even euthanized to keep other pets and people safe.
This is why it's essential to keep your dog's vaccinations current.
What does the dog rabies vaccine schedule look like?
Each state has its own laws for the required rabies vaccine schedule for dogs. In most states, the first vaccination is given to your puppy when they are between 14-16 weeks of age and is followed by a booster shot one year after the initial vaccine.
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 is it necessary for my dog to receive annual rabies booster shots?
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.
Is it possible for a dog that has been vaccinated to contract 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.
What are the possible side effects of the dog rabies vaccine?
Many dogs will experience mild discomfort or swelling at the vaccination site, a slight fever, and tiredness after the vaccination. This is completely normal and typically goes away within a day or two. If the side effects linger past two days or get worse, you should contact your vet for further advice.
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.
Rarely, your dog may 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 bring them to the closest emergency 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.
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.