All dog owners want their dogs to be in the best health possible and a discussion about health should include vaccinations. Just as with humans, there are risks with any measures taken to prevent illness are a very important aspect of what is safe for your pet.

One of the most common vaccines that your dog is required to have is the  Rabies vaccination. This is a virus that is normally transmitted through a bite and is spread to humans through infected saliva. Once a person show signs of being infected with rabies, it is almost always fatal.  Rabies has been reported in every state in the United States except  Hawaii and  everywhere throughout the world except Australia and Antarctica.  Yearly, more than 50,000 people and millions of animals die from the rabies virus.

Human symptoms of Rabies 

  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety and Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Excessive Thirst
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Paralysis

It is recommended that your seek medical care immediately if you are bitten, or possibly bitten, by any animal.  

Any mammal can transmit the rabies virus and the ones most likely to pass the virus to people include:

  • Catsbuster-1517908
  • Dogs
  • Cows
  • Ferrets
  • Horses
  • Goats
  • Bats
  • Coyotes
  • Monkeys
  • Skunks
  • Woodchucks

Canine symptoms of Rabies


  • Extreme behavior changes including restlessness, apprehension or aggression – friendly dogs become irritable or excitable dogs become docile
  • Quick to bite or attack other animals, humans or inanimate objects
  • Constant licking. biting or chewing at the site where they were bitten
  • Possible fever
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch, light and sound
  •  May hide in dark places
  • Paralysis of the throat and jaw muscles, which can cause foaming of the mouth
  • Paralysis of the hind legs that can cause disorientation and incoordination
  • Seizures
  • Sudden death

The virus can be present in your dog anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks before symptoms are noticed, but transmission can occur as early as 10 before the appearance of symptoms. There is no treatment for Rabies and the only accurate test to determine a true case of Rabies is through brain tissue. Because of the threat to public health, animals that are suspected of having Rabies are generally euthanized.

Vaccination as Prevention

All immunizations should gently stimulate your dog’s immune system to create protection from diseases.  While you should always discuss concerns about possible side effects with your veterinarian, know that the benefits outweigh  risks when considering the countless lives that vaccines have saved.

The Rabies vaccine is not a live virus, but can lead to a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis which can lead to shock and respiratory or cardiac failure. If it does occur, it will do so within minutes and up to 24 hours of the injection.141756305451nji


Symptoms of Anaphylaxis
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Shock
  • Coma
  • Pale gums
  • Weak pulse
  • Facial swelling

Long-Term Side Effects1405547806fms2c

  • Cancer at the injection site
  • Seizures
  • Epilepsy
  • Chronic digestive issues
  • Muscles weakness
  • Autoimmune diseases that can effect organs

Behavioral issues can also be a side effect. Sudden aggressive behavior, destructive or compulsive behavior or separation anxiety should be reported to your veterinarian.

While you cannot predict if your dog will react to the Rabies vaccine, it is wise to be prepared. If your dog has ever had any adverse reaction to a medication or a vaccine, make sure your vet knows this. Keep track of all medical records for your dog and never allow your dog to receive any other vaccine  in combination with the Rabies injection. Awareness of possible adverse reactions, along with good communication with your veterinarian, go a long way to ensuring what is safe for your pet regarding the Rabies vaccine.



10 comments on “Safe For Your Pet – What You Need To Know About Your Dog’s Rabies Vaccine

  • I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article. I find that it was organised well, and neatly presented. The use of images was well thought out, and I think the layout of the page is enticing to viewers. There was also plenty of content to cover the topic. The only suggestion I have is maybe space out the paragraphs a little more so they’re not so close to each other, but it wasn’t really a big deal to me.

    • Hi Mr Pianoforte,

      Thanks for visiting and for your encouraging comments, all very appreciated. I have added some more spacing so hopefully it helps!

      Take Care,


  • Rabies is a pretty intensive condition to say the least! I have a rather cute toy dog named Caviar and I would be devastated if anything like that happened to her.

    I don’t know what the rate of infection is here in NZ but I’ll be sure to ask my Vet more about it next time I see her. Thank you very much for the insights.

    Kind Regards


    • Hi Michelle,

      Rabies is very tragic and so easily prevented. I too would be devastated if something happened to one of my dogs, especially something that could be avoided. Stayed tuned as I am working on another post about rabies…

      Take Care,


  • This is a great post. As an animal lover I would hate to see my pet inflicted with a dreadful illness. I am aware that vaccinations are not entirely safe…however measured against the alternative of not vaccinating then, to me, there is no alternative. Your post will be incredibly useful for any pet owner wondering whether they should vaccinate their pet and the potential consequences of having it done…or not.
    Thank you

    • Hi Jason,

      Thanks for taking the time to visit and for your comments. To vaccinate or not is a personal decision that must be made by all pet owners. Knowing what I know now, I plan to have a conversation with my vet as it is time for my Sofie to renew her rabies shot. While I have faith in the care that all my pets receive, I know that my vet is very concerned with the legalities of the Rabies vaccine. So for me, the possible issues of the vaccine go beyond health concerns and extends to include the question is the authority of the government over stepping it’s bounds in the regulation of the Rabies vaccine?

      Take Care,


  • I have a cocker who I vaccinate every year because I’m terrified something might happen to him. He is like a member of my family, especially to me because I’m the one who takes care of him the most. I was just wondering if the vaccine has to be put even when a dog is old? I’m talking about 8 or 10 years. Thanks

    • Hi Franni21,

      According to Pet MD: “Rabies vaccines are not given to pets to protect the animal, they are given to protect humans. Public health departments, the agencies that determine rabies vaccine protocols, are only concerned about the welfare of humans, hence all of the regulations regarding rabies vaccines, especially in dogs” Older dogs are not exempt from getting the Rabies vaccine, but current requirement is an every 3 year schedule. If you older dog is ill, most vets will delay the vaccine until your dog is well again.

  • There was a recent Rabies outbreak in a stray dog population in my country last year which killed two humans, I think. It caused such a chaos because Rabies is not part of the core vaccination program where I lived.

    During the incident, pet owners scrambled to the vets requesting for Rabies vaccination to the point that we actually ran out of stock. I hope this case would prompt the government to set a new guideline for canine/feline vaccination program here.

    • Hi Cathy,

      Thanks for your input on the Rabies Vaccine issue. Where do you live – I am curious to know what country does not require this vaccine? In the US, the legal guidelines are very clear and are strictly enforced. It is important to remember that the Rabies Vaccine can have some serious side effects and studies have shown that current requirements may be seen as too frequent. This is especially true in the case of older pets and those with known health issues.

      Take Care,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *