What is Rabies?
The deadly rabies virus can severely impact the brain and is transmitted through contact with an infected animal's saliva. Pets, livestock, wildlife and humans can all be affected.
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.
This virus is almost always fatal. Once signs of the deadly virus appear, the animal can typically be expected to die within a few days.
How Rabies Incubates & Spreads
To contract rabies, a dog would need to come into contact with the saliva of an infected animal, or by being bitten by an infected animal. Typically, it will take between 10 and 14 days for your pooch 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:
- Uncharacteristic aggression, fearfulness or even affection
- Overreaction to touch, sound or light
- Barking differently
- Excessive drooling
- Biting at the site where they were exposed to the viruses
- SeizuresDifficulty swallowing
- Loss of balance when walking
- Partial or complete paralysis
Can Animals Be Tested For Rabies
If your pet comes into contact with an infected animal and isn't vaccinated against rabies, you will end up having to make some very difficult choices.
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.
Are Rabies Treatable?
Unfortunately, once a dog is infected with rabies, there is no treatment available from veterinarians to cure the disease. The only options remaining are quarantine or euthanasia. This underscores the crucial importance of prevention.
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. If you are still wondering, "can you get rabies from a dog that has been vaccinated?" The short answer is yes, unfortunately there is still a risk of the disease spreading.
How Often Do Dogs Need Rabies Shots?
Although not mandatory in all jurisdictions, the rabies vaccine holds significant importance among the various vaccinations your puppy or dog should receive to safeguard their health and prevent the onset of multiple life-threatening illnesses.
Our Parrish vets recommend the rabies vaccine as a core vaccine to be given to puppies starting between ages 14 to 16 weeks. It is also part of our core kitten and cat vaccinations.
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. Since vaccine antibodies wane over time, the rabies vaccine will begin to lose efficacy. This is why follow-up booster doses must be administered.
Are There Rabies Vaccine Side Effects?
Side effects of rabies vaccinations in dogs will usually be due to the fact that the vaccine stimulates the immune system. These can include:
- Mild fever
- Mild loss of appetite
- Potential swelling or soreness at the injection site
- Mild to moderate energy loss for 24 to 36 hours following vaccination
Occasionally, dogs may develop a painless swelling at the injection site following the rabies vaccine, which can persist for a couple of weeks. In rare instances, a small circular patch of hair loss may occur at the injection site.
It is important to note that some dogs may not experience any side effects from the rabies vaccine. If side effects do occur, they typically manifest within an hour of vaccination and subside within one or two days.
Severe reactions to the rabies vaccine are uncommon but can happen when the immune system overreacts. Serious side effects typically occur immediately or within one to two hours after vaccination.
Rare reactions to the rabies vaccine include:
- Swelling in the face, eyes or muzzle
- Fainting or collapse
- 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
Take your dog to a veterinarian for emergency care immediately if you notice any of the symptoms above.
Can a Vaccinated Dog Get Rabies?
The rabies vaccine is effective and dogs who get it rarely become infected. While the chances of a vaccinated dog getting rabies is low anything could happen.
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.