Rabies Vaccine For Dogs – Q&A

Written by: Milica Brzakovic
Just like people, pets need vaccines in order to protect themselves from certain diseases. This article is focusing on rabies vaccination and will answer your most common questions.

Dog vaccination is a common topic amongst dog owners and many people debate over whether they should vaccinate the dog or not.

While this is a perfectly normal thing to ask yourself when it comes to some vaccines, the rabies vaccine for dogs should not be debatable.

Namely, this vaccine is considered a core vaccine and is even required by law.

As mentioned in our previous texts, there are core and non-core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are the ones you can debate about and that certain dogs need, while others don’t – depending on the dog, its health and other factors. Core vaccines, on the other hand, are mandatory and all dogs should get them. The rabies vaccine is one of them.

Since this is such an important vaccine, we thought it would be a good idea to answer the most common questions when it comes to this vaccine.

What Is Rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the brain. It can affect humans and others mammals. Most common symptoms include fever, hallucinations, violent behavior, uncontrolled emotions, fear of water, confusion, and loss of consciousness.

This is an infectious disease, which means it can be transmitted. Unfortunately, it almost always leads to death. When it comes to dogs, the fatality is 100 %. Rabies can be prevented with rabies vaccine, animal control and rabies immunoglobulin.

When Should I Vaccinate My Dog?

This varies from state to state, but usually, you can take your dog to the vet for a vaccination already at the age of 3-6 months. After the first vaccine, annual boosters are required. This varies from dog to dog but is usually done every 1 to 3 years.

It is very important to stick to the vaccination schedule for dogs, not only when it comes to rabies. Read our article on vaccination schedule for puppies and print out the schedule so you always have it somewhere visible!

How Often Does My Dog Need Rabies Vaccines?

As mentioned, the rabies vaccine usually lasts from 1 to 3 years. This depends on two factors:

  • The age and rabies vaccine history
  • The state and municipal laws regarding vaccinations for rabies

After the first dog rabies vaccine, a boost is required one year later. After that, depending on the abovementioned factors, the dog will need a boost every 1 to 3 years. Check your local laws and regulations and discuss with your vet in order to decide how often your dog needs a vaccine boost.

For more information on this topic, see the video below.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Just like any vaccine, a dog rabies vaccine can cause certain side effects. Vaccine side effects are fairly common and can range from mild to severe.

Vaccine reactions happen when the immune system is overloaded and can’t deal with the vaccine appropriately. Most common symptoms are:

In case your dog experiences any side effects, take him or her to the vet just to be on the safe side. It would also be a good idea to vaccinate your dog when you will be able to monitor him/her afterward and be there in case of side effects, especially when it’s the first time for a certain vaccine.

Is It Okay To Vaccinate An Unhealthy Dog?

You should never vaccinate your dog if he/she is sick. This can just make it worse and do irreparable harm. Discuss everything with your vet if you’re unsure how to deal with a situation.

Are Multiple Vaccines Okay?

Are you considering getting your dog vaccinated against more diseases at once, and thus make the ”suffering” worse? Nice thought, but unfortunately this is usually not recommended. By giving your dog multiple vaccines, the chances of reactions are increasing. You should, of course, check this with your vet and find a good solution for your dog.

When Is A Good Vaccination Time?

The best vaccination time is in the morning, early in the week. It is also important to stay at the vet’s and monitor for reactions, at least for an hour.

It is also important not to vaccinate your dog just before your travels. If you’re taking your dog on a trip (or if you’re going alone for that matter) don’t vaccinate your dog at least one week before the travel.


Rabies is an infectious, fatal disease that can affect both humans and dogs. Therefore, rabies vaccination is required by law and is a core vaccine. Puppies should usually receive their first rabies vaccine when they’re 3-6 months old. After that, they will need a booster vaccine every one to three years, depending on the dog and state regulations.

Like with any vaccine, side effects are possible and fairly common. Most common symptoms are fever, lethargy, facial swelling and difficulty breathing. Monitor your dog for reactions up to 48 hours after the vaccination and stay at the vet’s for at least one hour immediately after, just to be on the safe side. It is also good to vaccinate the dog in the morning and not less than one week before traveling.

To sum it up – rabies is a 100% fatal disease in dogs and for the moments there is no treatment. This is why it is so important to vaccinate your dog on time and to stick to the vaccination schedule. Naturally, it is important to be cautious and informed before the vaccination, in order to recognize possible side effects and deal with them accordingly. Last but not least – discuss all your concerns with your vet and don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have – you can never know too much!