How often does a dog need a rabies shot? Well, one of the reasons that the frequency of rabies shots is a really sensitive issue is that rabies could be fatal.
As a result of this, a concerned dog parent would want to know how long a rabies shot lasts in order to be sure that their dog is always protected.
Another reason for the sensitivity of this issue is that rabies is zoonotic. And what this means is that rabies can be contracted by humans from dogs.
Bearing all these in mind, let us find out, how often you need to take your dog for their rabies shot.
What’s The Rabies Vaccine?
Interestingly, there are different kinds of rabies vaccines. And while some of them are good for 1 year, some others are good for 3 years.
Typically, your dog will have to get their first rabies shot when they are between 3 and 6 months old. Then, they’ll have to go back when they are 1 year old for a renewal.
From then on, how often they go back will generally be dependent on the kind of rabies vaccine that has been administered to your dog.
Nonetheless, there is more to a revaccination than what kind of vaccine is used.
However, before we go into that, do bear in mind that at the time of writing this article, there is still no cure for rabies.
A rabies vaccine does not cure rabies, it only helps your dog’s immune system be better prepared to fight off a rabies infection.
What Factors Determine How Often Your Dog Gets A Rabies Shot?
The following are factors that can determine how often your dog gets a rabies shot:
- The kind of rabies shot your dog is getting
- How old your dog is
- State laws
We’ve already mentioned that the kind of rabies vaccine your dog gets could be a determinant.
However, it is interesting to note that it is not one of the major determining factors.
The primary reason is that it is actually pretty difficult to determine how long a rabies shot is good for. So, these other factors are more often used as a check:
How Old Your Dog Is
Yup, your dog’s age is actually a pretty good determinant. We’ve already talked about your dog getting a rabies shot before and when they are one.
That said, as an adult, things begin to stabilize and your dog will probably only need to get a shot once a year or once every three (3) years.
As your dog gets older and into their senior years, they will most likely have to go in more frequently than that, say twice a year or yearly (if they were getting theirs once every three years).
However, if you adopted an adult stray, there is a significant possibility that said dog has never gotten a rabies shot before.
As a result, they won’t have that option of a three-year wait. What this means is that your dog’s rabies shot history determines, to a significant extent, how often they need to go in to be revaccinated.
Yup! Because of how sensitive rabies is (what with it being fatal, zoonotic and having no cure), states usually have laws that stipulate how often a dog needs to be vaccinated for rabies.
And interestingly, states are only concerned about rabies.
So, some states allow for dogs to go for up to 3 years before getting revaccinated while some others allow for only a 1 year interval, at the very least, regardless of the kind of rabies vaccination.
That said, knowing what the state laws concerning rabies vaccination is very important as it helps you and your vet figure out what kind of vaccination to swing for.
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How Often Does A Dog Need A Rabies Shot? — Bottom Line
All things being equal, your adult dog should be getting revaccinated once every year or once every three years.
However, consulting with your veterinarian helps you decide what factors apply to your dog and, as a result, what the actual time frame for a revaccination will be.
How Often Does A Dog Need A Rabies Shot? — FAQs
Can A Dog Get Rabies If They Have Been Vaccinated?
It is highly unlikely that a dog whose vaccinations are up to date will get rabies. Rabies shots are highly effective in preventing rabies, which is why it is highly recommended.
However, much with a lot of preventative measures, rabies shots are not 100% effective. So, if you think your dog has rabies, you really should get in touch with your vet.
What Are The First Signs Of Rabies In A Dog?
The first sign of rabies in a dog is usually a noticeable change in behavior. So, a dog who is usually really friendly and calm would become aggressive and irritable and a dog who is usually boisterous would become meek.
As the rabies virus progresses, the infected dog would begin to develop a fever, hide in dark and unusual places and eat weird stuff.
Foaming at the mouth is a symptom that usually shows at the advanced stage of the rabies infection.
Should Senior Dogs Get Rabies Shot?
If your senior dog is not around other dogs much, there mightn’t be much of a need for them to keep getting a rabies shot.
Rabies is usually contracted through the bite of an infected dog. So, if you are sure your senior dog never will be in that kind of situation, you could get away with stopping their rabies shot.
However, before you make such a decision, be sure that you’ve had a discussion with your vet.
Who Do You Call For A Rabid Animal?
If there is a rabid animal within close proximity, call your local health department as quickly as possible.
You might need to give them some information on certain behaviors to aid capture. However, you do not need to get too close to that animal for this. Make sure that you are somewhere safe as you make that call.
Can You Get Rabies From A Healthy Dog?
It is not possible to get rabies from a dog who doesn’t have rabies. Whether or not an infected dog looks like they have rabies could be a tricky knot, though. So, if you’ve been bitten by a dog, you might want to check things out.
Is It Too Late To Get My Dog Vaccinated?
It is not too late to get your dog vaccinated. Well, unless your dog already has rabies, then nothing can be done at that point.
However, if your dog doesn’t have the virus yet, go ahead and take him in to get vaccinated. Make sure to tell the vet that he hasn’t ever been vaccinated.