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What to Know About the Essential Rabies Vaccine for Dogs

What to Know About the Essential Rabies Vaccine for Dogs

Rabies is a deadly disease. The best way to protect your dog from this serious illness is to get them vaccinated. In this post, our Stuart vets share some important facts about rabies in dogs and explain why it's essential to get your pup vaccinated. 

Rabies Explained

Rabies is a viral disease that can be spread to animals and humans. The virus is transmitted through direct contact with the saliva or brain tissue of an animal that has been infected. People usually get rabies after being bitten by a rabid animal.

Rabies is a serious disease. There aren't any tests available that can be conducted on a living animal or person to determine if they are infected and after symptoms arise, the disease is almost always fatal.

There is a law in most states that require dogs to be vaccinated against rabies. If your pooch isn't up to date on the rabies vaccine and gets bitten by an animal, state law may require your pet to be strictly quarantined for a long time period or even euthanized, to keep other pets and people safe.

This makes it essential to keep your dog up to date with their vaccinations.

How Often Your Dog Will Need The Rabies Vaccination

Each state has its own laws for the required rabies vaccine schedule for dogs. In most states, the first vaccination is supposed to be 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 the best person to ask how often your pup should receive their booster vaccinations.

Why Rabies Booster Shots Are Essential

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 make sure they are still protected.

Rabies & Vaccinated Dogs

Rabies vaccinations are very effective, but no vaccine offers 100% protection. So while the risk of vaccinated dogs getting rabies is very low, it can still happen.

The best way to keep your dog safe from rabies is to make sure they stay up to date with their vaccinations their entire life.

Possible Side Effects of The Rabies Vaccine

Lots of dogs will develop mild discomfort or swelling at the vaccination site, a slight fever, or tiredness after getting the rabies vaccine. This is completely normal and usually goes away after a day or two. If the side effects continue for more than two days or if they become worse, don't hesitate to call your vet to get additional advice.

Occasionally, the injection site can stay swollen or firm for a few weeks. If the swelling persists longer than three weeks or gets larger, it is time to take your pooch to the vet.

On rare occasions, dogs 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:

  • Hives
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Severe coughing or difficulty breathing, and even collapse.
  • Swelling of the muzzle and around the face, neck, or eyes

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.

Contact our Stuart vets today to schedule an appointment for your dog's rabies vaccination or to learn about the other pet vaccinations we offer for cats and dogs at Animal Care Extraordinaire.

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