How Often Does a Dog Need a Rabies Shot? Important Information for Pet Parents!

how often does a dog need a rabies shot

Dog owners, whether their pets are young puppies or fully grown, need to ensure their animals receive rabies vaccinations to protect against this deadly and highly infectious virus. Are you curious about how often your dog needs a rabies shot? The veterinarian may advise that, in addition to other shots, your pet should get the rabies vaccine every one to three years, depending on your state’s laws.

Remember: rabies is a fatal disease, and almost all dogs die once the symptoms appear. Rabies can even attack the central nervous system – it can affect humans as well. That is why one must get vaccinated on the day of the bite.

Unfortunately, there is no test available to tell if a person or an animal is infected. Furthermore, there is no veterinary medicine to treat the disease after its symptoms appear. Even in humans, rabies risk can deadly. There is no cure once it affects the brain tissue.

Your dog may become infected with the rabies virus if it is not vaccinated against the disease and is bitten by rabid animals. That is why you must strictly follow veterinarian advice regarding your puppy’s rabies vaccination schedule along with other core vaccines.

How Often Does a Dog Need a Rabies Shot?

As mentioned earlier, each state has a different mandate regarding rabies vaccination. However, in most states, vets give the rabies vaccine to dogs that are over 16 weeks or 4 months of age. They then recommend a rabies booster shot be given 12 months after the first shot.

After that, your adult dog may need rabies shot every 1-3 years (12-36 weeks of age), and this depends on the state mandate.

You can visit the website of the American Veterinary Medical Association to find out the state laws regarding rabies vaccine in your state. Your veterinarian will also note down your puppy’s next rabies vaccine in its annual vaccination records book along with other core vaccines.

How Long Is a Rabies Vaccine Good for in a Dog?

The answer to this question will depend on legal and medical aspects. State laws pertaining to rabies vaccine schedules vary. These laws determine how long the rabies shot or vaccine is good for and when dogs need boosters. So, the pets vaccinations schedule depends on your geographic location and state law.

If you check the labels on rabies vaccines, you will find there are dates listed on them telling you if the vaccine is good for one year or three years. Although all rabies vaccines contain the same ingredients, legal considerations determine the period for which these vaccinations are valid.

Some states also require that you vaccinate your dog against rabies annually, whether or not the vaccine’s stated validity period is one year or three years. That is why, it is best to follow your vet’s advice when it comes to staying up to date with your dog’s rabies vaccination and core vaccines schedule.

Find out exactly when your puppy should get its rabies vaccine in this guide.

What Happens if My Dog Is Overdue for Rabies Shot?

Again, this answer also has legal and medical implications. If your puppy has been overdue for the rabies shots for over a year or three years, and your state laws mandate that you need to vaccinate it annually or every three years, then legally your pet will be considered unvaccinated and is a high risk.

Medically, your pet might still have some protection from its last vaccination, even if it was over a year ago.

Please understand that no two dogs are the same. When it comes to rabies antibodies, some dogs may retain the vaccine protection longer than others. Therefore, they may be protected against the virus for months or years beyond the due date after being vaccinated for rabies.

Visit your veterinarian as soon as possible if you think your puppy may have been bitten by a rabid animal or wild animals. They can conduct a thorough health assessment or titer test to see if your puppy is still protected against the deadly virus or is at risk.

According to vets, it is best to get your dog revaccinated right away with rabies boosters vaccine if your dog received its rabies vaccine, which has a 1-year validity, more than 14 months ago. Similarly, get your dog revaccinated if it has been more than 22 months since it received its rabies vaccination, which has a 3-year validity.

Does Rabies Vaccine Last Longer Than 3 Years in Dogs?

As stated above, the answer to this question will depend on the validity of the initial vaccine given, the state mandate, and your dog’s immune system.

According to the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases, annually there are 5000 rabies cases in wild animals. This makes the rabies vaccine very important.

In adult dogs that were given the three year vaccine, the protection of the initial vaccination could last for more than 36 months and may even go up to 42 months. However, it is best to give your dog the rabies booster vaccine right away as, legally, it could be considered unvaccinated.

How Many Rabies Shots Should a Dog Get In Their Lifetime?

The answer to this question is not fixed. It depends on many factors, including your dog’s lifespan, your state laws, etc.

Most vets recommend giving the first rabies shots at 16-weeks of age. They ask to re-vaccinate all adult dogs with rabies shots every 1-3 years as per state mandate.

At What Age Can I Stop Vaccinating My Dog?

According to the experts at the VCA Hospital, your dog will need certain core vaccines and a few noncore vaccines every year, irrespective of its age. It is worthwhile noting that certain canine diseases can be especially harmful to senior dogs since dogs immune response decreases with age.

Therefore, non core vaccines for diseases such as leptospirosis, canine influenza, rattlesnake, Bordetella/ kennel cough, and Lyme disease may be needed as frequently as every 6-12 months for dogs aged 7 years and over. If you board your dog frequently at pet boarding facilities or it frequents dog parks, it can come in contact with other dogs – therefore, vaccination is a must.

This implies that all dogs need some vaccination or another annually. You can’t stop, and it’s best to stick to the vaccination schedule your veterinarian recommends.

However, some experts do think that we may be over vaccinating our pets. Many dogs develop allergies and even come cancers due to excess vaccine. So, please discuss these rare cases with your veterinarian.

Check out our complete puppy vaccinations schedule in this guide.

FAQs – How Often Should You Give Your Dog Rabies?

What Is the difference between the 1 Year and 3-Year rabies vaccine?

As mentioned earlier, there is no difference between the 1-year and the 3-year rabies vaccine. The contents of both the vaccines are exactly the same. The labeling is done purely to satisfy local laws.

What are the four core vaccines and non core vaccines?

Rabies is one of the 4 core vaccines along with others for distemper, canine hepatitis, and parvovirus. Non core vaccinations include leptospira, kennel cough, rattlesnake, canine influenza, and Lyme disease vaccines.

Why do dogs need rabies shots every year?

The rabies shots will help your pet’s body create the rabies antibodies that will protect your dog from the deadly rabies virus. Since the antibodies decrease with time, and the effectiveness wears off, your dog will need the rabies booster shots each year or every three years as per your state’s laws.

How long is a rabies shot good for in a dog?

The label on the rabies vaccine will tell you how long it is good for. It can be a period between one and three years. Medically, the shots will provide protection for a few more months, but it is best to get your dog revaccinated as per the vet’s schedule.

How much do rabies vaccines cost in the USA?

The cost of rabies shots is between $15-$20 per dose.

Conclusion – Rabies Vaccination for Dogs

Almost all 50 states in the United States recognize the rabies vaccine’s validity of 3 years. However, some state municipalities still require every dog to be re-vaccinated with a booster shot annually. After the first rabies shot at 16 weeks, your dog might need annual or a three year vaccine.

Since there is no definite answer, it may be best to follow your vet-recommended schedule regarding rabies vaccinations.

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