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A Dog's Vaccine Schedule for Rabies

Rabies is a fatal disease. The best way to protect your dog and your family is to have them vaccinated against rabies. Today, our Port Jefferson veterinarians explain more about this important vaccine, including how frequently your dog should get a booster shot.

What is rabies? 

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.

The majority of states require vaccination of dogs by law. State law may require quarantining your pet for an extended period of time or even euthanizing them if they are bitten by an animal and not up to date on their rabies vaccine. This is done to protect other pets and people.

This is why it's essential to keep your dog's vaccinations current. 

How often does my dog need a rabies shot?

States vary the required rabies vaccination schedule for dogs. Most states administer the first vaccination to your puppy 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 1-3 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.

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?

After vaccination, the vaccination site may cause mild discomfort or swelling in many dogs, along with a slight fever and tiredness. This usually resolves itself within a day or two and is completely normal. Consult your veterinarian if the side effects last longer 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.

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
  • Hives
  • 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.

Is your dog overdue for a rabies shot or booster? Contact our Port Jefferson vets today to book an appointment. 

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Jefferson Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Port Jefferson companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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