Health Wellness Vaccines for Dogs – How Often Do Dogs Need Rabies Shots?

Vaccines for Dogs – How Often Do Dogs Need Rabies Shots?

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One of the most important things when owning a dog is preparing for his vaccination schedule. The question is how often do dogs need rabies shots, and when should they get their first one?

One of the most important dog vaccines is the vaccine for rabies virus. This is because it is one of the most dangerous zoonotic diseases (transferable from animals to humans) in existence.

How Often Do Dogs Need Rabies Shots?

Dogs can receive their first rabies shot as early as 12 weeks of age. However, the vaccine shouldn’t be administered to puppies that are younger than 12 weeks. The vaccine is generally ssued when puppies are 12-16 weeks old.

Many states require dogs to be vaccinated when they are four months of age. After 12 months they must receive a booster vaccine.

Once the dog receives the booster vaccine, he should be vaccinated every three years, or, in some cases, every year. The difference is in the vaccines administered. Veterinarians can either administer a 1-year rabies vaccination or a 3 year rabies vaccine.

However, some states mandate what type of vaccine dogs should get and how long will they last. This means you may not be able to choose between 1-year rabies vaccinations and 3-year vaccinations.

Is Rabies Vaccination for Dogs Required by Law?

Rabies is a deadly viral disease that affects both animals and humans, including domestic dogs and cats. Unfortunately, dogs are one of the most common reservoirs of the virus with more than 99% of all humans who die of rabies being infected by dogs.

Luckily, dogs can be vaccinated against rabies and modern vaccines are highly effective against the virus. You know rabies can be transmitted from dogs to humans, making vaccination against this deadly disease a core vaccine in the United States.

While all pet owners should vaccinate their pets against rabies, state laws regarding vaccination can be significantly different. Verify your local regulations before abstaining!

It’s worth noting that a rabies titer test which proves the presence of antibodies doesn’t correlate with protective immunity in the legal sense, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

Five yellow Labrador retriever puppies. Part of the "Vaccines for Dogs – How Often Do Dogs Need Rabies Shots?" article.
Photo by Bharathi Kannan on Unsplash

Can Vaccinated Dogs Get Rabies?

Its true that vaccinated dogs can also get rabies. The unfortunate short answer is yes, Although modern vaccines are highly effective, they are not 100% effective – just like any other vaccine.

What to Do If Your Dog Gets Bitten by a Rabid Animal?

exposed dogs must see a vet as soon as possible. The usual procedure is to put the dog into quarantine for a certain number of days, depending on the state, 4 months is normal. Quarantining at home may also be permissible.

Unfortunately, there is currently no available cure for rabies. If your dog displays symptoms, he will probably have to be euthanized.

What Are the Symptoms of Rabies?

The symptoms of rabies in dogs are varied and they become more severe as the disease progresses and the dog’s immune system becomes weaker. Some of the initial symptoms include behavioral changes like aggression or irritability. Fever may also be present at this stage.

As the virus progresses, the dog may become more sensitive to light, touch and sound. It is also potentially possible your dog may try to eat unusual things and go into hiding in dark places. Rabies virus often causes paralysis of jaw muscles and throat, which leads to the well-known symptom of foaming at the mouth. Other symptoms include loss of coordination, disorientation, weakness, seizures and, ultimately, death.

Can Rabies Vaccine Cause Side Effects?

The most common side-effects are mild. They include swelling at the site of vaccination and discomfort. A slight fever may also develop, as well as decreased activity level and appetite.

In extremely rare cases, a dog might develop more serious side effects to the rabies vaccine. These side effects include diarrhea or vomiting, hives, swelling around the face, eyes, and neck, as well as severe cough and breathing problems. These side effects usually require immediate veterinary care since they can be life-threatening. It’s a good idea to have your carrier ready.


The transmission of rabies from animals to humans is of serious concern as its a deadly viral disease. Without a cure, vaccination is the best way to prevent it and protect your dog and yourself from rabies.

Between 12 and 16 weeks of age you should take your dog to get the first rabies shot. Then follow this with a booster shot one year after the first vaccination. After that, he should receive additional shots every year or every three years, depending on the type of vaccine.

Should you decide you wish to know more about the availability of shots for your pup, click on the link here.


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