Rabies is a deadly virus that affects dogs and other animals. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent rabies in dogs. In this article, our veterinarians in Franklin will discuss how often dogs need these shots, potential side effects and more.
How can a dog get rabies
Rabies is a virus that can be transmitted from infected animals to dogs and other mammals, including humans. Dogs can contract rabies through contact with an infected animal's saliva or nervous tissue, typically through bites or scratches.
Wild animals such as raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes are common carriers of the virus, and dogs that come into contact with these animals are at high risk of infection.
Additionally, domesticated animals such as cats, cattle, and horses can also carry the virus and pass it on to dogs. It's important to keep your dog up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations and avoid allowing them to interact with wild or potentially infected animals to prevent the spread of this deadly virus.
How Rabies Incubates & Spreads
Rabies is a serious disease that dogs can get from the saliva of an infected animal or by being bitten by one. After exposure, your furry friend may start showing symptoms within 10 to 14 days, but in some cases, it can take much longer.
Depending on how your dog was exposed to the virus, symptoms can take months or even years to appear. It's important to keep an eye on your pet's health and take them to the vet if you suspect they may have been exposed to rabies.
What are the signs of rabies in a dog?
Dogs with rabies may exhibit numerous signs and symptoms, including:
- Barking differently
- Excessive drooling
- Uncharacteristic aggression, fearfulness or even affection
- Overreaction to touch, sound or light
- Biting at the site where they were exposed to the virus
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of balance when walking
- Partial or complete paralysis
How to test a dog for rabies?
As a pet owner, if your furry friend comes in contact with a rabid animal and hasn't received the rabies vaccine, you may be faced with a heart-wrenching decision. Unfortunately, animals cannot be tested for rabies, leaving pet parents with the difficult choice of isolating their pet and monitoring for symptoms or saying goodbye to a cherished family member. However, even if a pet is placed in quarantine, the chances of survival are slim, especially if symptoms eventually appear.
What is the rabies vaccine?
Rabies vaccines are very efficient and stimulate a strong immune response. The likelihood of the vaccine failing is rare. However, pet vaccination requirements differ depending on where you live.
Nevertheless, ensuring that your pet's rabies vaccines are current safeguards your furry friend and your family members from this lethal brain disorder.
How often do dogs need rabies shots?
At our Franklin veterinary clinic, we highly recommend giving your puppy the rabies vaccine as part of their essential vaccinations. Although some places don't require it, the rabies vaccine can help safeguard your dog's well-being and prevent various fatal illnesses. For optimal protection, it is advised to vaccinate puppies between 14 to 16 weeks of age, and the rabies vaccine is also included in our core vaccinations for cats and kittens.
Remember, vaccine immunity reduces over time, which is why it's crucial to schedule booster shots. These additional doses ensure that your dog remains protected and healthy. It is suggested to give boosters at 12 to 16 months of age and every 1 to 3 years based on the type of vaccine prescribed by your veterinarian.
Are there rabies vaccine side effects?
The side effects of rabies vaccinations in dogs will usually be because the vaccine stimulates the immune system. These can include:
- Mild loss of appetite
- Mild to moderate energy loss for 24 to 36 hours following vaccination
- Mild fever
- Potential swelling or soreness at the injection site
After a dog gets a rabies vaccine, it is possible for them to develop a small, painless swelling at the injection site. This swelling may last for a couple of weeks; in some rare cases, a circular area of hair loss may also occur. Not all dogs will experience side effects from the vaccine; if they do, they will usually go away within one or two days.
However, in rare instances, a dog may have a severe reaction to the vaccine, usually caused by an overactive immune system. These reactions typically happen within an hour or two of vaccination.
Rare reactions to the rabies vaccine include:
- Swelling in the face, eyes or muzzle
- Severe swelling or pain at the injection site
- Hives, which appear as firm lumps on the dog's body and may or may not be itchy
- Fainting or collapse
Take your dog to a veterinarian for emergency care immediately if you notice any of the symptoms above.
Can my dog get rabies if they are vaccinated?
While there is still a risk of your dog contracting rabies even while vaccinated, the odds are very low. In fact, the rabies vaccine is so effective that dogs who have been vaccinated rarely become infected.
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.