If you are a dog owner, you must be acquainted with the various vaccines that are to be given to pets to protect them against illnesses and infections. Most pet care laws insist on regular and on schedule immunizations for pets. However, when it comes to rabies vaccine, law does not tolerate any dillydallying on your part. Rabies vaccine is not only about protecting your pet from contracting rabies but it also extends its protection to the human members of your family.
When to Give Rabies Shots for Puppies?
First rabies shot can be given to puppies in the age group of 9 to 16 weeks. Very young puppies do not need these shots, as they are protected from the disease by their mother's antibodies. Thus, a vaccine is likely to be ineffective in their case. By the age of 12 weeks, a puppy is ready to receive its first rabies shot. This is also called 'one year rabies shot' as it only provides immunity to your dog for one year.
How Often to Give Rabies Shots to Adult Dogs?
Adult dogs can be immunized at any point of time during their lives. There is no specific time of the year for immunizing your dog. Different states have different laws regarding the frequency of rabies shots to be given. The frequency for each state mostly depends upon the risk of infection to dogs from other wildlife as well as risk of exposure of virus to human life from dogs. Depending upon these two factors, some states may make it mandatory to get a vaccine once every three years while some other states may warrant annual shots. You may have to inquire with your local vet regarding the frequency of rabies shots in your particular area.
When to Give Booster Shots?
Booster shots are to be administered on an annual basis. They extend the immunity of your dog against rabies, until the next vaccine is given. Some vaccines are licensed to last for 2 - 3 years, while others last only for a year. If your dog takes an annual rabies shot every year, then there will be no need for a booster shot.
How Does this Vaccine Protect Your Dog?
Rabies vaccine does not cure your dog of rabies. If your dog has already developed rabies symptoms, then there is no way of reversing the disease. A vaccine only provides an immunity against the rabies virus, so that whenever your dog is exposed to rabies virus, he has antibodies against the disease. Rabies to humans is transmitted only by those dogs that are not vaccinated. This makes it imperative for every dog owner to get their pet immunized against disease.
Can You Give Rabies Shots to Pregnant/Sick Dogs?
Rabies shots can be given to adult dogs of any age, as long as they are in a good health. This means, pregnant dogs can receive these shots without any complications. However, these shots are not recommended to sick, underweight dogs for the possible risks of side effects of rabies shots. The vet will evaluate the condition of your dog and then make a decision regarding when to give rabies shot to such a dog.
Remember, rabies is a fatal disease. It progresses over four stages, with first stage being a latent or dormant stage. Immunization at this stage can save the life of your pet and prevent the disease from progressing further. In the second stage, dog may show some behavioral changes while the third stage is characterized by paralysis and viciousness. Fourth and final stage often spells death for your pet.
Hence, make sure you stick to the rabies vaccination schedule for the sake of your dog's health. Also, protect the human life around your pet if you suspect a possible infection.