Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Rabies in Dogs

Rabies is a deadly virus that affects dogs and other animals. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent rabies in dogs. In this article, our veterinarians in Pflugerville will discuss how often dogs need these shots, potential side effects and more.

How can a dog get rabies?

Rabies is a virus that spreads from infected animals to dogs, other mammals, and even humans. Dogs can contract rabies if they come into contact with an infected animal's saliva or nervous tissue, which typically occurs through bites or scratches.

Dogs who come into contact with wild animals such as raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes are at high risk of contracting the virus.

Domesticated animals, such as cats, cattle, and horses, can also carry and spread the virus to dogs. To prevent the spread of this deadly virus, keep your dog's rabies vaccinations up to date and avoid exposing them to wild or potentially infected animals. 

How Rabies Incubates & Spreads 

Rabies is a serious disease that dogs can contract by ingesting infected animal saliva or being bitten by one. Your pet's symptoms may appear within 10 to 14 days of exposure, but in some cases, it may take longer.

Symptoms can appear months or even years after your dog was exposed to the virus. If you believe your pet has been exposed to rabies, you must monitor their health and take them to the vet immediately.

What are the signs of rabies in a dog?

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
  • Falling 
  • Seizures

How to Test a Dog for Rabies

If your pet comes into contact with a rabid animal and has not received the rabies vaccine, you may face a difficult decision. Unfortunately, animals cannot be tested for rabies, leaving pet parents with the difficult decision of isolating their pet and monitoring for symptoms or saying goodbye to a beloved family member. Even if a pet is quarantined, its chances of survival are slim, especially if symptoms develop later.

What is the rabies vaccine?

Rabies vaccines are very efficient and stimulate a strong immune response. The likelihood of the vaccine failing is rare. However, pet vaccination requirements differ depending on where you live.

Nevertheless, ensuring that your pet's rabies vaccines are current safeguards your furry friend and your family members from this lethal brain disorder.

How often do dogs need rabies shots?

At our Pflugerville veterinary clinic, we strongly recommend that your puppy receive the rabies vaccine as part of their regular vaccinations. Although not required in all areas, the rabies vaccine can help protect your dog's health and prevent a variety of fatal illnesses. Puppies should be vaccinated between 14 and 16 weeks of age for maximum protection, and the rabies vaccine is included in our standard vaccinations for cats and kittens.

Remember that vaccine immunity fades with time, which is why it's critical to get booster shots. These additional dosages keep your dog safe and healthy. Boosters are recommended between the ages of 12 and 16 months, and every 1 to 3 years, depending on the vaccine type prescribed by your veterinarian.

Are there rabies vaccine side effects?

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

Following a rabies vaccination, a dog may experience a small, painless swelling at the injection site. This swelling can last for several weeks, and in rare cases, a circular area of hair loss may develop. Not all dogs will experience side effects from the vaccine; if they do, they should resolve within one or two days.

However, in rare cases, a dog may experience a severe reaction to the vaccine, which is usually caused by an overactive immune system. These reactions are usually seen within an hour or two of vaccination.

Rare reactions to the rabies vaccine include:

  • Cough
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • 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.

Can my dog get rabies if they are vaccinated?

While there is still a risk of your dog contracting rabies even while vaccinated, the odds are very low. In fact, the rabies vaccine is so effective that dogs who have been vaccinated rarely become 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.

Is your puppy or dog due for their rabies vaccinations? Our Pflugerville vets can administer your pooch's vaccines.

New Patients Welcome

Pfennig Lane Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Pflugerville companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

(512) 989-2222 Contact