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Does My Dog Need a Rabies Vaccine Every Year?

Does My Dog Need a Rabies Vaccine Every Year?

Rabies is an incredibly serious disease that is fatal if contracted by a dog. Having your pooch vaccinated against rabies is the best way to protect both them and your family. Here, our Groton vets explain more about this very important vaccination as well as how often your dog needs their booster.

What is rabies? 

Rabies is a viral disease that is capable of affecting both humans and animals. This virus is transmitted through direct contact with the saliva and the brain tissue of infected animals. In people, this illness is most commonly transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal.

Rabies is a very serious disease. There aren't any tests that can be conducted on a living person or animal to tell if they are infected and, once symptoms start to appear, the disease is nearly always fatal. 

Most states require by law that dogs be vaccinated. If your dog is not up to date on their rabies vaccine and is bitten by an animal, your state's law may require that your pet is strictly quarantined for a long period of time - or even euthanized - in order to keep other pets and people safe from this incredibly dangerous disease.

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

How often does my dog need to be vaccinated for rabies?

Every state has its own laws for required rabies vaccine schedules for dogs. In most states, the first vaccination is given to your dog when they are between 14 and 16 years old and will be followed by a booster show one year after their initial vaccination.

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 inform the body's response to diseases and help your dog's immune system to recognize a foreign invader quicker. With vaccines, your dog's immune system will target and destroy the virus if it enters their 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 hugely effective, but no vaccine can guarantee 100% protection against infection. So, while the risk of infection taking hold in your vaccinated dog is 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?

Many dogs will experience mild discomfort or swelling around their vaccinations site, a light fever, and tiredness after their vaccination. These are all totally normal responses and will generally go away within a day or two. If the side effects of your pet's vaccine grow worse or don't go away, contact your vet for advice on how to proceed.

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.

Very rarely, your dog may develop side effects that become more serious. These will generally occur within minutes or hours of your dog getting their shot and will demand immediate medical attention and treatment. If your dog is experiencing any of the following symptoms after receiving their vaccine, bring them to the closes emergency vet hospital as soon as possible.

  • Hives
  • 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.

Is your dog due for a rabies booster to help protect them against this very serious disease? Contact Companion Animal Hospital today for more information and to book your next appointment.

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