Rabies Vaccination for Dogs Part 12


Rabies Vaccination for Dogs – AB 272

Dog Getting Vaccinated


From the CDC Website, “While dogs have historically been associated with rabies transmission to humans, cats are more likely to be reported rabid in the U.S. Cats are often in close contact with both humans and wild animals, including those that primarily transmit rabies. This creates a situation in which rabies may be more easily transmitted from to humans from cats.” In 2008 75 dogs and 294 cats had rabies; in 2009, 81 dogs and 300 cats.  In California, livestock and dogs are required to be vaccinated, but cats are not.  Are you aware of the reason behind this, especially since cats contract rabies more frequently than dogs both in California and nationally?

Dr. Dodds – No; but, without doubt, California and other states should require rabies vaccination of cats as well as dogs.

Dr. Breitman – That would be a question for your legislature.  Both dogs and cats should be required to be vaccinated.

Regarding mercury in vaccines, the two main rabies manufacturers in the US are Fort Dodge/Pfizer and Merial, both of which have thimerosal-free vaccines.  Are there other manufacturers who still use thimerosal?

Dr. Dodds – The other still do, and curiously, even Merial still makes a Thimerosal-based rabies vaccine as well as the preferred Thimerosal-free version. If so, how prevalent is there use and who uses them?  Many are still unaware of the importance of avoiding the use of Thimerosal in any vaccine product, and do not check for it. 

Dr. Breitman – I’m not sure, you’d have to check their individual web sites.  However, extensive studies for human vaccines have shown that the amounts present in vaccines are safe.  So, I think that this is a fad, not a real issue.

Is there an age, size, or breed (genetic predisposition with dog breed or family, e.g., standard poodle, Akita, Weimaraner, great Dane, Eskimo dog ) of dog that is more susceptible to an adverse vaccine reaction?  Yes; published studies show that most vaccine reactions occur as shown below from one of my handouts:  [Dr. Dodds also provided a feline handout which is not applicable to this article.]

Table 5. Canine Vaccine Adverse Events  *

  • retrospective cohort study; 1.25 million dogs vaccinated at 360 veterinary hospitals
  • 38 adverse events per 10,000 dogs vaccinated
  • inversely related to dog weight
  • vaccines prescribed on a 1-dose-fits-all basis, rather than by body weight.
  • increased for dogs up to 2 yr of age, then declined
  • greater for neutered versus sexually intact dogs
  • increased as number of vaccines given together increased
  • increased after the 3 rd or 4th vaccination
  • genetic predisposition to adverse events documented


*   from Moore et al, JAVMA 227:1102–1108, 2005.

Table 6. Vaccine Conclusions For Canines  *

 Factors that increase risk of adverse events 3 days after vaccination:

  • young adult age
  • small-breed size
  • neutering
  • multiple vaccines given per visit

These risks should be communicated to clients


*   from Moore et al, JAVMA 227:1102–1108, 2005.

Dr. Breitman – Answered above.

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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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