Rabies Vaccination for Dogs Part 2


Rabies Vaccination for Dogs – AB 272

Dog Getting Vaccinated




The entire process of looking up definitions was very frustrating, and here’s an example.  (I learned very quickly that if I looked something up in a medical dictionary, it used other medical terms that I was not familiar with, so I’m now in love with Noah Webster because he speaks English instead of med-speak, but Webster’s dictionary was just one of many sources.)  I wanted to be sure that I got things right, so I started by simply looking up “germ.”   The pertinent definition (and there were several that were not pertinent) is, “A pathogenic a microorganism. A microbe capable of causing disease.”

So then I looked up “pathogenic” – “capable of causing disease.”

Next “microorganism” – “a microscopic organism, especially a bacterium, virus, or fungus.”

Then “microbe” – a minute organism typically visible under a microscope that include bacteria, fungi, and protozoan parasites.  Webster’s calls a microbe a germ.  (I like Webster’s.  But now I’m back where I started.)

Okay, so what’s the difference between a microbe and microorganism?  Both terms can be used interchangeably.  However, a microbe is a microorganism or a virus.  Viruses may not be considered alive since they are not organisms (a single cell animal or plant that can reproduce itself) – or – a microbe is a microorganism that usually causes a disease.  (I may be falling out of love with Webster because he defined an organism as “a complex structure of interdependent and subordinate elements whose relations and properties are largely determined by their function in the whole.”  I’m really losing it now.  But I need to press forward and get this article written.

Here goes – and I hope if it’s straight in my head that it’s understandable to you.  First we’re going to talk about vaccines in general (because we all should know how vaccines work and the terminology behind the concepts) and then the rabies vaccine itself.

I want to emphatically state that I am not a veterinarian and this is not nor should it be construed as medical or veterinary advice but for informational purposes only.  You need to discuss with your personal veterinarian what is best for you and your dog.

What is a disease or pathogen?

Disease – an abnormal condition that affects the body and has specific signs and symptoms.

Pathogen – another word for disease.  It can be bacterium, virus, fungus, or allergen.  (Remember, it’s a germ – yippee! – another word I understand.)

What is immunity?

Immunity is being able to resist a particular disease, especially through keeping it from spreading throughout your body.  If you have immunity, it means that your body can fight that disease without your knowing it so your body can kill the germs without your experiencing any symptoms – if you get a flu shot and then are exposed to the flu, you likely will not come down with the flu.  You yourself don’t take a sledge hammer and knock the flu away, but the cells in your body do.  It protects you from getting the disease at that first exposure and also in the future.  You do that internally by building antibodies to that disease.  (Don’t worry; we’ll get to antibodies in a minute.)

Your immune system is a system of structures and processes within your body that protects you from disease.  Your immune system can tell the difference between your own healthy cells and invaders (germs again!).

How does your dog get sick?

The germ is, basically, a microorganism that makes him sick.  It’s also called a pathogen, which is a bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease) that can get into the body by his touching it, breathing it, or eating it.

How does your dog acquire immunity?

He can become immune to a specific disease or germ in one of several ways, four of which we talk about here –

  • He can be naturally immune when he is able to resist the illness because he has a healthy immune system which can fight the disease.  (Both we and dogs don’t get sick every time we’re exposed to a germ.)
  • He can have maternal immunity aka passive natural immunity which he gets from his mother while both in the womb and from the mother’s milk right after birth.
  • He can get the disease itself and become immune from getting it again because his system has built up resistance (but it depends on what type of disease it is), and this is called acquired immunity.
  • He can get a vaccine to protect him against the disease, which is called artificial immunity.  There are basically two ways to administer vaccines – one is by injecting it either in a muscle or under the skin, and the second is by inhaling it.


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Disclaimers – this is a *very* long article (almost 17,000 words) which I have loosely broken up into segments. This is the unedited final draft of the article in its entirety that I wrote in 2013 for a website that is no longer in existence. Not only is the final article no longer available, but I have had computer and Internet issues where some data may have been lost. I have spent several hours trying to piece it together and reformatting.

The article does not reflect current research as of 2018.  However, a good portion of the discussion is still applicable. If there is something that you believe was not true in 2013 or if I have made a mistake in reformatting, please let me know and I will do my best to fix it.

The reason it is posted here is because I was hosting a discussion on DogRead DogRead@yahoogroups.com about my book Doggie Dangers ( Kindle http://tinyurl.com/y8uc4gtc  Paperback http://tinyurl.com/y7vhce9t ), and the subject of rabies vaccines came up when we were talking about wildlife concerns for family dogs. We were discussing how to keep the yard safe from wildlife, but one person mentioned she had a bat fly into her house! Some of the participants requested that I post the article since it is no longer published.

And the final disclaimer – I am a dog trainer, not a veterinarian or medical researcher. Therefore, this article is for information only and not a substitute for any veterinary, medical, or other advice.

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