What is rabies in dogs, and why should your furry friend get vaccinated? In this post, our Diamond Bar vets will talk about how often your dog needs the rabies shot when they might need booster shots, and what possible side effects to watch out for.
What Effect Can Rabies Have On My Dog's Health?
The rabies virus is very dangerous and can harm the brain. It spreads when you touch the saliva of an infected animal. This virus can affect pets, farm animals, wildlife, and people.
The CDC sees about 5,000 cases of rabies in animals annually, most of which are cases occurring in wild animals. Bats, raccoons, foxes, and skunks are the animals most likely to carry this virus.
Sadly, this virus almost always leads to death. When an animal shows signs of rabies, it usually dies within a few days.
How Rabies Incubates & Spreads
To contract rabies, a dog would need to come into contact with an infected animal's saliva or be bitten by an infected animal. Typically, it will take between 10 and 14 days for your pup to start showing symptoms.
However, symptoms can take months or years to appear, depending on how your pet was exposed to the virus.
Symptoms of Rabies
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
No Test for Rabies
You may face a tough decision if your pet encounters a rabies-infected animal and isn't vaccinated. In such situations, pet owners must choose whether to isolate their pet and monitor for symptoms or, sadly, consider euthanasia for their cherished furry friend.
Since animals cannot be tested for rabies, pet parents who find themselves in this position are forced to decide whether to quarantine their pet and wait for symptoms to appear or to euthanize a beloved family member. Quarantined pets are unlikely to survive even if they do not initially show symptoms.
No Treatment for Rabies
Once your dog has become infected with rabies, there is nothing a veterinarian can offer to treat the disease. Quarantine or euthanasia are your only options. This is why prevention is so critical.
What is the rabies vaccine?
Rabies vaccines are highly effective and immunogenic. It's rare for the vaccine to fail.
Requirements regarding pet vaccinations vary from city to city and state to state, but keeping your pet's rabies vaccines up to date protects both your dog and the people in your household against this deadly neurological disease.
What Is The Typical Dog Rabies Vaccine Schedule?
Our Diamond Bar vets recommend the rabies vaccine for puppies starting at 14 to 16 weeks of age.
This vaccine protects your pet's health and prevents deadly disease. Keep in mind that the effectiveness of the rabies vaccine diminishes over time. To maintain projects, booster shots are necessary.
Boosters, which are designed to immunize any animals that failed to respond to the initial dose, should be administered once your dog reaches 12 to 16 months old and every 1 to 3 years, depending on the type of vaccine your veterinarian uses.
Are There Any Side Effects From The Vaccine To Watch For?
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
Some dogs might get a small, painless lump where they go their shot, and it could stick around for a few weeks. In very uncommon cases, they might lose a small patch of fur at the shot spot.
Keep in mind that some dogs won't experience any side effects at all from the rabies vaccine. If side effects do occur, they'll typically begin within an hour of vaccination and vanish within one or two days.
Rarely, a dog may have a severe reaction to the rabies vaccine, typically due to an overreaction of the immune system. Serious side effects usually come on immediately or within one or two hours after vaccination.
These unusual reactions to the rabies shot 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.
Is It Possible for My Dog To Still Get Rabies If They Are Vaccinated?
Even if your dog is vaccinated, the chance of them getting rabies is very slim. The rabies vaccine is worse so well that vaccinated dogs hardly ever get 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.