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Dog Rabies Vaccine Schedule

Protect your dog from rabies by following the vaccination schedule. In this blog, our veterinarians in Ankeny discuss the importance of vaccinating your canine companion.

What is rabies?

Rabies, a viral disease, can affect both humans and animals. The virus spreads through direct contact with an infected animal's brain tissue or saliva, typically occurring when a rabid animal bites a person. This illness is highly serious, with no available test to determine infection in living humans or animals. Once symptoms develop, the disease often proves fatal.

In most states, the law mandates that all dogs receive rabies vaccinations. If your dog falls behind on its rabies vaccinations and gets bitten by an animal, state regulations may demand strict quarantine or even euthanasia to safeguard other animals and pets. Thus, maintaining your dog's vaccination schedule is crucial.

How often does my dog need a rabies shot?

Each state has its own laws regarding rabies vaccination schedules for dogs. In most states, puppies need to receive their first rabies vaccination when they are between 14 and 16 weeks old, followed by a booster shot one year after the first vaccine. After that, your dog should receive a rabies booster shot every one to three years, depending on state laws and the type of vaccine they have received. Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you on how often your dog should receive rabies booster vaccinations.

Why are rabies boosters mandatory?

Vaccinations help your dog's body identify a particular disease and develop an immune response that can fight and eliminate the virus from your dog's body. However, over time, this immunity becomes less effective. Hence, booster vaccines are necessary to re-establish your dog's immunity and ensure that they remain protected.

Can vaccinated dogs get rabies?

Rabies vaccinations are highly effective; however, no vaccine can offer 100% protection. So, while the risk of a vaccinated dog contracting rabies is extremely low, it is still possible. The best protection is to make sure your dog's rabies vaccinations are always current and up to date.

What are the side effects of the rabies vaccine for dogs?

Many dogs may experience some mild discomfort, swelling, fatigue, and a slight fever at the vaccination site after receiving a vaccine. However, these side effects are normal and usually subside within a couple of days. If the side effects persist beyond two days or worsen, it is best to contact your veterinarian for additional guidance on what steps to take next.

Sometimes, the injection site may remain firm and swollen for several weeks. If the swelling does not go away after three weeks or becomes larger, it is time to take your furry friend to the vet immediately.

Although it is rare, some dogs may develop more severe side effects. These symptoms usually occur within minutes to hours after receiving the vaccine and require immediate medical attention. If your dog experiences any of the following symptoms, it is essential to take them to the nearest emergency vet right away:

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

The rabies vaccine is extremely safe and important in protecting your canine companion's overall health.

Why Do Behavior Changes Happen

So why is your dog acting weird after their rabies shot or other vaccinations? Various factors can contribute to the behavioral changes you might observe in your dog following their vaccinations. It is essential to consider these factors when evaluating your dog's response to the vaccines they recently received:

  • Individual Sensitivity -Like humans, Dogs have different sensitivities and reactions to vaccines. Some dogs may be more susceptible to behavioral changes, while others may show no noticeable difference.
  • Vaccine Components - Vaccines contain specific components, such as adjuvants or preservatives, that enhance their effectiveness and shelf life. In rare cases, these components can trigger allergic reactions in dogs, resulting in more pronounced behavioral changes. Discuss any concerns with your veterinarian to ensure the appropriate vaccines are administered.
  • Stress and Anxiety - Veterinary visits, including vaccinations, can induce stress and anxiety in dogs. The anticipation of discomfort, strange environments, or unfamiliar people can trigger temporary changes in behavior. Comforting your dog with gentle reassurance and positive reinforcement can help alleviate stress during these visits.

How much is a rabies shot for a dog?

For information on the cost of a rabies shot for your dog, we recommend contacting your veterinarian directly. They can provide detailed pricing and any additional information you may need.

What is a proper vaccination schedule for a dog?

To better understand the vaccination schedule for dogs, we have created a schedule from puppyhood to adulthood.

Puppy Vaccination Schedule

6 - 8 Weeks

  • *DHPP Shot 1
  • Bordatella
  • Leptospira
  • Lyme
  • Influenza Virus-H3N8
  • Influenza Virus-H3N2

10 - 12 Weeks

  • Influenza Virus-H3N8
  • Influenza Virus-H3N2
  • DHPP Shot 2
  • Leptospira
  • Lyme
  • Rabies

14 - 16 Weeks

  • DHPP Shot 3

Adult Dog Vaccination Schedule


  • Bordatella
  • Leptospira
  • Lyme
  • Rabies
  • Influenza Virus-H3N8
  • Influenza Virus-H3N2

Every 3 Years

  • DHPP Booster
  • Rabies

*DHPP: This vaccine protects against Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus.

Age Restrictions

Very young puppies and senior dogs with compromised immune systems are not eligible for all shots. Talk to your vet to find out more about vaccines for your dog.

The Importance of Vaccinations

Our veterinarians believe vaccinating your dog is essential to its annual preventive health care. Vaccinating your dog early in life and regularly throughout its lifetime will help provide your pet with the best chance of living a long and healthy life.

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.

Contact our Ankeny vets today to schedule your dog's rabies booster shot appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Creature Comforts Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our Ankeny vets take the time to get to know our clients and treat every pet as if it were our own. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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Contact (515) 965-0006