Rabies Vaccination for Dogs Part 5

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Rabies Vaccination for Dogs – AB 272

Dog Getting Vaccinated

Ouch!

What is a vaccine reaction?

Any vaccine has the potential to cause a reaction.  The reaction can come from the disease itself or the adjuvants in the vaccine.  If your dog has a reaction, it is called vaccinosis.  It happens in some dogs that have immune systems that are overloaded with dealing with the vaccine(s).  Killed vaccines such as rabies and some injectable bacterial vaccines may be more likely to cause an allergic reaction than the modified live ones because of the amount of the disease material they contain and because of the adjuvants.

There are several types of reactions.

A Type I reaction is anaphylaxis and possible death.  Anaphylaxis is an extreme allergic reaction (which affects many body systems) to a foreign substance which can range from a vaccine to food to mold to an insect bite and many more allergens.  You can see symptoms almost immediately, but they can occur several hours later.

Initial symptoms include

  • Defecation
  • Diarrhea
  • Hives
  • Itchiness
  • Puffy face
  • Swollen eyelids, lips, and/or ears
  • Urination
  • Vomiting

Then they progress to

  • Cold legs
  • Drooling
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Hyper excitement or depression
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums
  • Shallow, rapid and difficult breathing
  • Weakness

A Type II reaction includes these reactions immediately following vaccination, and they are less severe than a Type I:

  • Bleeding at the injection site
  • Eye discharge
  • Irritable puppies
  • Lump at the injection site
  • Puppies that don’t like to be touched
  • Puppies with no appetite
  • Sleepiness
  • Slight depression
  • Sneezing and nasal discharge
  • Swelling of the face

When are reactions likely to occur?

Most reactions occur within 48 hours of your dog’s being vaccinated, but some take longer.  If your dog has a mild reaction, it generally will last a short time, just a few days.

Many veterinarians say that most vaccinosis cases are mild and that the adverse reactions will be over within at least a few weeks.  However, there is a huge controversy in the veterinary community about other side effects that can develop later in your dog’s life.  Again, more later – I’ll bet you’re on pins and needles (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association says,

“It is generally only the adverse reactions that occur within the first few hours to a day after vaccination that are considered vaccine-associated by most veterinarians or owners. Even when the adverse reaction occurs shortly after vaccination there are many who fail to recognize that the vaccine caused the reaction. Certain adverse vaccine reactions are not observed until days, weeks or even months and years after vaccination or revaccination. The autoimmune disorders and the injection site sarcomas, which are among the rare vaccine adverse reactions, may not develop for years after being triggered by vaccines.”

What should I do if my dog has a reaction?

Take your dog to the vet immediately, even if it is a mild reaction so your vet can both record it on his notes to be aware of in future vaccinations and also report it to vaccine manufacturer and federal overseeing body.  Remind your vet in the future of his reaction, and especially let any veterinarian who is not your regular vet know about the reaction.

What can happen if I vaccinate my dog in the future if he has a mild reaction?

There are three possible scenarios

  • Nothing will happen.
  • He will have the same reaction.
  • He could have a worse reaction such as anaphylaxis.

Rabies is the only vaccine that is legally required, and it must be given by a veterinarian.  If your dog has had a reaction to a rabies vaccine, you can ask your vet to write a letter stating that your dog has the potential for a life-threatening reaction to another dose of vaccine.  It’s up to the governing bodies in your area whether they will exempt your dog or not.

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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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