Rabies Vaccination for Dogs Part 7


Rabies Vaccination for Dogs – AB 272

Dog Getting Vaccinated


What are the vaccine requirements for all the states?

Each state makes its own laws as to when you should vaccinate your dog.

12 states have 3-month laws/regulations:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania

14 states have 4-month laws/regulations:

  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia

1 state has 5-month laws/regulations:

  • Wisconsin

6 states have 6-month laws/regulations:

  • Delaware
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

13 states refer to the Rabies Compendium:

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Washington State
  • Wyoming

Hawaii does not require one because they are an island and can control who enters more so than the contiguous United States.
Kansas leaves it up to the municipalities.
Ohio leaves it up to the municipalities, but requires imported dogs to be vaccinated according to the compendium.

Missouri – here’s the statute: http://www.moga.mo.gov/statutes/C300-399/3220000010.HTM.

What is the Rabies Compendium?

The Rabies Compendium is a summary or guidelines that serve as a basis for animal rabies prevention and control programs throughout the United States.

Why do some dogs/puppies have a reaction and others don’t?

 The vaccine manufacturers say that, according to their testing, it is okay to vaccinate as early as three months.  The vaccine manufacturers and many guidelines say that the rabies vaccine should not be given before 12 weeks.  However – and this is a biggee – there can be conflicts between guidelines because they are based on scientific knowledge and thinking today, but the data used reflects the knowledge when the vaccine was licensed, which be decades earlier.  Everyone seems to agree on the Type ! and II reactions, but there is conflict as to what is classified as a reaction.

Reactions are due to the overall health of the dog, any breed predisposition to the vaccine, the vaccine’s administration, whether the maternal immunity is still present, and other factors.

What are the signs of a reaction to the rabies vaccine?

 Each disease has its own reactions, and what follows are reactions from rabies vaccines.  There are immediate reactions and what can be delayed reactions, both medical and behavioral.

Immediate reactions are things that you can see either immediately or within a day of receiving the vaccine

  • Anaphylaxis
  • Facial swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives

It’s the delayed reactions (which may start within a week but can last much longer and which don’t show up until much later) that are not so clear cut and are controversial as to whether there is a direct link to the rabies vaccine.

Medical reactions

  • Any dermatological condition
  • Auto-immune diseases
  • Cardiomyopathies
  • Chronic poor appetite, very finicky
  • Drooling
  • Dry eye, loss of sight, cataract
  • Eating wood, stones, earth, stool
  • Eczematous ears
  • Excessive barking
  • Hurts when being touched
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Irregular pulse, heart failure
  • Lipomas
  • Paralysis of throat or tongue
  • Periodontal disease
  • Poor hair coats
  • Reverse sneezing
  • Seizures, epilepsy, twitching
  • Stomatitis
  • Thyroid disease
  • Tumors
  • Voice changes, hoarseness
  • Warts

Behavioral reactions

  • Aggression to animals and people
  • Aloofness
  • Clingy, separation anxiety, ‘velcro dog’
  • Confusion
  • Desire to roam
  • Destructive behavior, shredding bedding
  • Fly snapping
  • Increased sexual desire, sexual aggression
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Restraining can lead to violent behavior and self-injury
  • Self-mutilation, tail chewing
  • Suspicious
  • Unaffectionate

What does DHLPP in the puppy shots stand for?

  •  D = distemper
  • H = hepatitis
  • L = Leptospirosis
  • P = Parvovirus
  • P = Parainfluenza

Many vets don’t recommend vaccinating for Leptospirosis.  Your dog needs this vaccine only if he is in an area with wild animals.

 What is the treatment for a vaccine reaction (first aid?)

Get your dog to a vet immediately.

How can you prevent/reduce the chance of a vaccine reaction?

 General Guidelines

  • Only vaccinate your puppy or dog when he is healthy.
  • Don’t give unnecessary vaccines, i.e., noncore vaccines.
  • Do not let your dog be vaccinated during surgery.
  • Make sure the puppy vaccines are given 2-4 weeks apart.
  • Have your regular veterinarian vaccinate your dog.  Don’t go to a vaccine clinic – for a couple of reasons.  One, because the vaccines at a clinic come from vials with multiple doses – every time a needle is inserted into the vial is a potential for contamination.  And the second reason is that there is no pretreatment or post observation.  It’s more costly because your dog may need to stay at the hospital for observation for a day.
  • Don’t give several vaccines at one time because if your dog has a reaction to one of the vaccines, you don’t know which one he’s reacting to.  Second, if you space the vaccines, then you give your dog a chance to build up the immunity for that particular disease and don’t overtax his system.
  • Definitely do not get Bordetella and rabies at the same time as your puppy’s last puppy shot and heartworm or flea meds.  Make sure there is at least a three-week interval between rabies and any other vaccines.
  • Don’t vaccinate within a week of any major change of routine, i.e., travel, houseguests, construction, etc. because it may affect your dog’s immune system.

Vaccine and Administration

  • Make sure your vet uses single-dosage vaccine vial.
  • Make sure that your vet uses a new needle.
  • Make sure that your puppy’s initial rabies vaccine is for one year because he has to get a booster in another year.  He doesn’t need the three-year vaccine as his initial vaccine.
  • With rabies vaccine, make sure your dog receives a mercury-free vaccine.  Insist on looking at the label.  The name of the vaccine should have a TF at the end.  TF means that it is Thimerosal Free.  The two brands used most widely in the US are Fort Dodge/Pfizer RabVac 3 TF and Merial Imrab 3TF.  The 3 on the label means that it is a three-year vaccine.  If you see a 1 on the label, it is for one year.   You can search for the vaccines that are licensed in your state.  If you are in California, here’s the list http://www.cdph.ca.gov/healthinfo/discond/Documents/2008_CA_rabies_vaccine_compendium.pdf


  • If your dog is a young neutered male weighing 11 pounds or less, he is at the highest risk for a reaction. Stay outside your vet’s office for at least an hour after the vaccine is given to see if your dog has a reaction.
  • If your dog’s health or behavior changes with a short period following the vaccine, it may be a reaction.  Your know your dog and his behavior better than your vet knows your dog.   So if your vet suggests antibiotics or other tests, ask her to explain why.  If your gut says something and your vet says something else, you have an important decision to make as to whether to follow your vet’s recommendation.  But do be informed!
  • Keep an eye on your dog for three days after the vaccine.  If any symptoms develop, photograph or videotape so you can show your vet.  Make sure you document everything.  Before you leave the office, get the package insert from your vet so you know the exact type of vaccine.
  • Report the reaction to vaccine manufacturer both in writing and by phone and have your vet report it.  Make sure you document everything – to whom you spoke and what that person said.  Report the reaction to the USDA, which you can do online.  This is important so the USDA can see if there is a cluster of reactions around a particular vaccine.

For adult dogs and revaccination

  • Find out how long each vaccine lasts, and do not vaccinate more often than necessary.  Many veterinarians have switched to a three-year vaccine rather than the older one-year vaccine.
  • Titer to see if your dog still has the antibodies in his system and does not need the vaccine.
  • Remind your vet that your dog had a reaction to a previous vaccine; if it’s a new vet, be sure to let her know.
  • Get a copy of your dog’s vaccine records and titers and keep it at home (as well as scanning the records) in case there is an issue at a later date.

Other Precautions

  • Have a qualified homeopathic veterinarian administer the homeopathic remedy Thuja.
  • If you like, you may put your dog on a detox program before and after the vaccine is administered.

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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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