Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Rabies Vaccination Schedule for Dogs

Rabies is a potentially fatal disease. The best way to protect your dog and your family is to have them vaccinated against rabies. Today, our Des Moines veterinarians explain more about this important vaccine, including how frequently your dog should get a booster shot.

What is rabies? 

Rabies is a viral disease that can affect both humans and animals. The virus is transmitted via direct contact with the saliva or brain tissue of an infected animal. In people, this disease is usually transmitted through being bitten by a rabid animal. 

Rabies is a serious disease. There are no tests that can be done on a living person or animal to tell if they are infected. And once symptoms appear, the disease is almost always fatal.

Vaccinating dogs against rabies required by law in the majority of states. If your dog is not up to date on their rabies vaccine and is bitten by an animal, state law may require that your pet be quarantined for an extended period of time or even euthanized in order to protect other pets and people.

This is why it's essential to keep your dog's vaccinations current. 

How often does my dog need a rabies shot?

The required rabies vaccination schedule for dogs varies by state. In most states, your puppy will receive their first vaccination between the ages of 14 and 16 weeks. This is followed by a booster shot one year later.

After that, your dog should receive a rabies booster every 1-3 years, depending on state law and the type of vaccine used. 

Your veterinarian is your best resource for how often your pup should receive booster vaccinations. 

Why are rabies boosters required?

Vaccinations tell the body how to recognize the disease and create an immune response that will target and destroy the virus should it enter your dog's body. 

Over time, this immune response wanes and isn't as effective. Booster vaccines re-build your dog's immunity to ensure they stay protected.

If you're worried about how much a rabies shot for dogs will cost, contact your vet to get an estimate and find out about payment options.

Can a vaccinated dog get rabies?

Rabies vaccines are very effective, but no vaccine can guarantee 100% protection. So while the risk of a vaccinated dog contracting rabies is extremely low, it is still a possibility. 

The best prevention is to keep up to date on your dog’s rabies vaccines over the course of their life.

Are there any side effects of the vaccine?

Following getting a rabies vaccine, many dogs will experience mild discomfort or swelling where the vaccine was injected, as well as a slight fever and tiredness. This is completely normal and usually resolves itself within a day or two. If the side effects last longer than two days, or worsen, consult your veterinarian.

Occasionally, the injection site can remain firm and swollen for a few weeks. If the swelling persists past three weeks, or gets larger, it is time to take your dog to the vet.

Rarely, your dog may develop more serious side effects. These will typically happen within minutes to hours after receiving the vaccine. These kinds of reactions require immediate medical attention. If your dog experiences any of the following symptoms, you should bring them to the closest emergency vet right away:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the muzzle and around the face, neck, or eyes
  • Severe coughing or difficulty breathing, and even collapse.

Overall, the rabies vaccine is extremely safe and an important factor in maintaining your pet's overall health. If you feel your dog is acting weird after a rabies shot, contact your vet.

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 dog overdue for a rabies shot or booster? Contact our Des Moines vets today to book an appointment. 

Welcoming Your Pets to Our Animal Hospital 

Des Moines Veterinary Hospital welcomes cats, dogs, fish, small mammals, and their owners to our clinic! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Des Moines companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's appointment.

Contact Us

(206) 878-4111 Contact