How Often Does a Dog Need a Rabies Shot?

beagle having a rabies shot

Your dog is like a family member, so you want to ensure they are as healthy and safe as possible. Not only does that mean feeding them a healthy diet and providing plenty of exercise and love, but it also means making sure they stay up to date on all their vaccinations—including the rabies shot. But how often does a dog need a rabies shot?

The time between shots depends on the vaccine manufacturer’s recommendations and local governmental regulations. Your veterinarian will assess these factors to determine when your pet should be vaccinated and when they need their next rabies dose.

The vaccination schedule for dogs is essential to ensure your dog has a long and healthy life, so it’s essential to know when to vaccinate them. Rabies vaccinations are no different; like other vaccinations, the length of immunity from the rabies vaccine will vary from dog to dog.

In this article, we’ll cover all you need to know about the rabies shot for your pet. Read on to find out how often a dog needs a rabies shot and what other information you need regarding this important vaccination.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a highly contagious and dangerous virus that can be spread to humans through the saliva of an infected animal. In pets, rabies is most commonly transmitted by wildlife such as bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, and coyotes. It can attack the nervous system causing brain inflammation and death in animals and humans.

Most deaths from rabies virus in the US are caused by wildlife, with bats being the leading cause. While rabies is extremely rare in dogs, it can occur, so vaccinating your dog is essential to ensure their safety and protect them from this deadly disease.

The virus is so dangerous that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all pets be vaccinated against rabies. This includes dogs, cats, ferrets, horses, cattle, and sheep.

Adenovirus (CAV):

Adenovirus (CAV) is a viral infection that can cause severe respiratory illnesses in dogs. It can result in inflammation of the eyes, nose, and throat, as well as fever, lethargy, kennel cough, canine influenza, sneezing, and coughing.

The most serious form of CAV can cause liver failure and death, so it’s important to get your dog vaccinated against this virus as soon as possible. Like rabies vaccination, non-core vaccines should be given annually or every three years, depending on the vaccine used.

Distemper virus (CDV):

Distemper virus (CDV) is another viral infection in dogs that can cause fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and anorexia. It can also lead to neurological signs such as seizures or even death. Like the core vaccines, CDV vaccines are available for dogs and should be administered annually or every three years, depending on the vaccine used.

How Often do Puppies Get Rabies Shots?

Puppy vaccinations are an important part of your dogs healthcare routine, and it’s essential to ensure they receive the vaccine according to their veterinarian’s recommended schedule. Puppies typically get their first rabies vaccination between 12-15 weeks of age, depending on local laws and regulations. After that, a booster shot is given one year later and every three years.

After that, the frequency of rabies shots will depend on your state or local laws. Some states require annual rabies shots, while others may allow more extended periods between vaccinations (up to three years). It’s essential to check with your veterinarian or local government agency for the most up-to-date information on rabies shot requirements.

What about adult dogs?

Adult dogs previously vaccinated against rabies should be given a booster shot one year after their initial vaccination and every three years. Again, state or local laws may require more frequent vaccinations, so always check to ensure you are up to date on the rules in your area.

As adult dogs age, they may require more frequent vaccinations due to their weakened immune system. If your dog is older than seven years old or has a chronic illness, then it’s important to speak to your veterinarian about the best dog’s rabies vaccine schedule for them.

How Long Does a Rabies Vaccine Last?

The rabies vaccine stimulates your dog’s immune system and provides long-lasting protection against the virus. Generally, a single dose of the vaccine will provide immunity for three years in dogs. However, the length of immunity may vary from dog to dog, so it’s essential to speak to your veterinarian about what’s best for your dog.

Remember that the rabies vaccine is just one component of your dog’s overall health care plan. Regular visits to the vet, a balanced diet, and plenty of exercise are all essential for keeping your dog happy and healthy.

What are the Risks of not Vaccinating your Dog for Rabies?

If you don’t vaccinate your dog against rabies, you’re putting them at risk for several serious health complications. An unvaccinated pet can contract the virus if they come in contact with a wild animal carrying the virus. This can lead to serious health issues and, in some cases, death.

Additionally, if an unvaccinated pet bites someone, it may be subject to quarantine or even euthanization, as rabies is so contagious and dangerous. This is why it’s essential to ensure your dog is up-to-date on all their vaccinations, including the rabies shot.

What should I do if my Dog needs a Rabies Shot?

If your dog needs a rabies shot, it’s essential to contact your veterinarian right away. Your vet will be able to provide you with the most up-to-date information on vaccination schedules and local laws regarding the vaccine. Your vet will also be able to assess your pup’s health and determine if they are a good candidate for the rabies shot.

In some cases, dogs with certain medical conditions or that are very elderly may not be able to receive the vaccine due to potential risks. Your vet will be able to discuss these risks with you and make an informed decision on the best course of action for your dog.

Are There Any Other Considerations When it Comes to the Rabies Vaccine?

Yes, there are a few other considerations that pet owners should take into account when it comes to the rabies vaccine. For example, some states require that all dogs receive the vaccine by a certain age to be legally vaccinated. Additionally, if you’re traveling with your dog, they may need an additional booster shot, depending on the state or country you’re visiting.

It’s essential to do your research when it comes to the rabies vaccine and always check with your veterinarian for the most up-to-date information. Vaccinating your dog against rabies is essential for their health and safety, so make sure they don’t miss out on this crucial shot!

Rabies Shot Side Effects in Dogs?

The rabies vaccine is generally considered safe for dogs, and most don’t experience side effects. However, as with all vaccines, there is a slight chance of an allergic reaction or other side effects that can occur.

Common side effects include lethargy, decreased appetite, fever, swelling at the injection site, and soreness/tenderness at the injection site. If your dog experiences any of these side effects, it’s essential to contact your vet immediately.

More severe reactions, such as difficulty breathing, seizures, or even anaphylactic shock, can occur in rare cases. You must contact your vet immediately for veterinary medicine if you notice any unusual behavior after your dog has been vaccinated.

Can a Vaccinated Dog Get Rabies?

While the rabies vaccine is generally very effective, it’s not 100% guaranteed to protect your dog against the virus. While it’s unlikely that a vaccinated dog will get rabies, it is still possible if they are exposed to the virus in exceptionally high concentrations.

It’s important to note that all dogs should be vaccinated against rabies, even if they are kept strictly indoors. This is because there is still a chance that your dog could come into contact with an infected wild animal.

Why do dogs Need Rabies Boosters?

Most rabies vaccines last for three years, but after that, booster shots are recommended. This is because the immunity provided by the vaccine can start to wane over time, and it’s important to maintain an adequate level of protection against the virus.

It’s also important to note that some states have laws that require all dogs to receive a rabies booster shot every year or every three years. It’s important to check with your local laws and regulations to make sure you comply.


Rabies is a severe and potentially fatal virus, so all dogs must be vaccinated against it. It’s essential to work with your veterinarian to determine the best schedule for your pup and ensure they receive boosters when necessary. Vaccinating your dog against rabies is a critical step in ensuring their health and safety, and it’s one that all pet owners should take seriously.

You can ensure your dog is safe and protected against this deadly virus with the proper care and attention. So make sure to get them vaccinated today!