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Can a Vaccinated Dog Still Get Rabies? Evaluating the Risk [2023]

Can a vaccinated dog still get rabies? Yes, although the chance is reduced. Vaccines trigger the immune system to make antibodies that fight the virus if exposed. But they aren’t 100% effective.

Worried about your pup catching rabies? Even after vaccination? Don’t stress! This article will tell you why

Introduction to Rabies and Vaccination

What is Rabies?

Can a Vaccinated Dog Still Get Rabies?

Rabies is like that uninvited party guest who not only crashes your party but also creates havoc. It’s a deadly virus that affects the nervous system of mammals, including our beloved dogs. The transmission? Well, it’s usually through a bite from an infected animal. Just imagine a zombie movie, but in real life and with animals. Not a pretty sight, right?

So take precautions! Avoid contact with possibly infected animals. And if bitten or scratched, seek medical attention fast. Some states may also require booster shots to keep immunity levels up.

Importance of Rabies Vaccination for Dogs

Rabies vaccination for dogs is essential to stop them from getting this deadly virus. Vaccinating them on time is vital. As the virus can spread to humans through saliva or bites, vaccinating a dog guards them and people.

Picture this: You’re about to enjoy your favorite ice cream, and suddenly, you drop it on the floor. Heartbreaking, right? Now, imagine that’s your dog, and the floor is the world full of rabies. You wouldn’t want your dog to be exposed to that, would you? That’s why vaccination is crucial. It’s like a superhero cape for your dog, protecting them from the villainous rabies virus

How does it work, you ask? Well, the rabies vaccine is like a boot camp for your dog’s immune system. It introduces a harmless version of the rabies virus, which trains the immune system to fight off the real deal. It’s like your dog’s personal trainer, preparing them for the big fight.

But, even if they are vaccinated, dogs can still contract rabies, though it is rare. The vaccine decreases the severity of the disease, so the effects are not long-lasting. Still, unvaccinated dogs are more at risk of contracting and spreading rabies.

Different states have their own laws surrounding rabies vaccines and how often they must be done. It is best to consult a vet about the vaccination schedule for the dog based on age and health.

Recently, a dog who had up-to-date rabies vaccinations was bitten by a rabid raccoon while hiking with his owner. He survived due to quick medical help and his vaccinations. This story shows why it’s important to keep your dog’s vaccines current, even if many pet owners think they are not worth the cost. Sorry anti-vaxxers, even a vaccinated dog can’t escape the bite of a rabid animal.

Can a Vaccinated Dog Still Get Rabies?

Now, here’s the million-dollar question: Can a vaccinated dog still get rabies? It’s like asking if Superman can get hurt. Technically, it’s possible, but highly unlikely.

Vaccination dramatically reduces the risk of infection. Vaccinated dogs should be well protected, but nothing is certain. Rarely, vaccinated dogs can still be infected if they come in contact with an especially virulent strain of the virus.

The vaccine may not work if it is not stored and administered properly or has worn off due to its efficacy timeline. Puppies must have additional booster vaccines to remain protected.

Vaccinating your dog and taking them for regular check-ups at the vet is essential to minimize risk. Unvaccinated dogs can spread rabies through bites or bodily fluids, so they pose a real threat to humans and other animals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that about 59,000 people die every year from rabies worldwide, mainly in developing countries. Responsible dog ownership involves vaccination, but also avoiding contact with wild animals and immediately reporting any suspicious animal behavior to authorities.

Protect your pup from the horror of rabies with the right vaccine knowledge!

Signs and Symptoms of Rabies in Dogs

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found it fascinating how such a tiny creature can cause such a big problem!

Anyway, back to the topic. When a dog contracts rabies, it goes through a series of stages, and each one comes with its own set of symptoms. It all starts with the prodromal stage. Fancy word, right? This stage typically lasts for a few days and is often characterized by vague symptoms, such as:

  • Fever: No dog wants to be hot in the canine sense, trust me!
  • Loss of appetite: It’s like when you suddenly lose interest in your favorite snack. Unthinkable!
  • Lethargy: Picture your dog becoming the ultimate couch potato. Not their usual energetic self, that’s for sure!

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. The furious stage of rabies kicks in next. And no, it doesn’t mean your dog is going to start throwing wild parties. In fact, quite the opposite. Dogs in this stage often display:

  • Aggression: Your sweet, cuddly pup suddenly turns into a snarling, growling beast. It’s like a real-life Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation!
  • Restlessness: Your dog might pace around incessantly, unable to settle down. Maybe they’re just trying to find the remote control for their favorite TV show. Who knows?

Finally, we have the paralytic stage. This is where things take a turn for the worse, unfortunately. Dogs in this stage experience:

  • Muscle weakness: It’s like watching your dog try to do yoga poses but fail miserably. Not exactly a cute doggy Downward Dog, that’s for sure!
  • Difficulty swallowing: Your dog might start drooling excessively and have trouble eating or drinking. It’s like they forgot how to swallow, poor things.

By knowing the signs and symptoms of rabies, you can act swiftly and protect your furry companion. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and give your pup an extra belly rub for me!

Read Also: Dog Whisperer: Meaning, Benefits, and Practice

Understanding the Rabies Vaccine

How the Rabies Vaccine Works

The Rabies vaccine is like a secret recipe that protects your dog from the rabies virus. The vaccine contains a weakened version of the rabies virus. When injected, your dog’s immune system recognizes it as an invader and learns how to fight it. It’s like a mock drill for your dog’s immune system, preparing it for a potential rabies attack.

It is vital to remember that, even with the vaccine, there is still a tiny chance that a vaccinated dog can get rabies if it has been in contact with infected animals. Nonetheless, the vaccine greatly reduces the risk of death from rabies by encouraging an early reaction from the immune system.

Veterinarians advise you to keep up with regular vaccination schedules for your dogs as immunity can reduce over time. If you are not sure if your dog has been adequately defended, testing should be done with the help of a veterinarian.

Make sure you go for regular checkups with your dog and adhere to due dates for vaccine administration to protect their well-being. Neglecting this could lead to avoidable illnesses or in the worst case, death. After being vaccinated, your dog is more likely to triumph in a staring contest with a rabid animal than contract the deadly disease.

Effectiveness of the Rabies Vaccine

Now, how effective is this vaccine? Well, it’s like a top-notch security system for your dog. Studies show that the rabies vaccine is highly effective and provides immunity for a significant period. It’s like having a long-lasting shield against the rabies virus.

However, remember that the duration of immunity can vary, so it’s essential to stick to the recommended rabies vaccination schedule.

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects

While getting your dog vaccinated is crucial for their safety, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects. Don’t worry, though, because these side effects are generally mild and uncommon. Some dogs may experience temporary soreness at the injection site, but hey, who wouldn’t be a bit sore after getting a shot? In rare cases, dogs may exhibit mild allergic reactions, like itching or swelling.

But hey, that’s just their body saying, “Hey, what’s going on here?” It’s important to note that serious side effects are incredibly rare, and the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks. So, keep that tail wagging and give your pup a treat for being a brave little vaccine champion!

Limitations and Exceptions

But wait, there’s a catch. There are cases when the vaccine might not work. It’s like that umbrella that fails to open during a sudden downpour. Some factors, such as your dog’s health status or improper vaccine storage, can affect the vaccine’s effectiveness. So, while the rabies vaccine is generally a superhero, there are times when even superheroes falter.

Refer to the table below for more info:

Vaccination StatusVirus ExposureRisk Assessment
Up-to-dateNoneNo Risk
Up-to-dateBite by a suspected rabid animalTreat wound and revaccinate within 5 days. Quarantine for 45 days from exposure.
Not up-to-dateNoneQuarantine for 10 days before vaccinating; treat wound if applicable. Repeat injection after one month then annually after that.
Not up-to-dateQuarantine in a health department facility for at least 6 months or euthanasia.Quarantine in health department facility for at least 6 months or euthanasia.

Also, it’s important to remember that antibodies against rabies take time to develop after vaccination. This means that recently vaccinated dogs may not have enough antibodies to fight off the virus.

The following table shows some examples of vaccinated dogs that got rabies:

Dog BreedRabies shotsRabies infection
German shepherdTwoYes
Belgian MalinoisSeveralYes

It’s noteworthy that, although rare, vaccinated dogs can have rabies.

This is because different strains of the virus vary.


The World Health Organization (WHO) said around 59,000 people die annually from canine rabies worldwide.

Understanding the Reasons Why Vaccinated Dogs End Up With Rabies?

Can a vaccinated dog still get rabies? It’s like trying to figure out why your phone battery drains even when you’re not using it.

There could be several reasons. Maybe the vaccine was stored improperly, or perhaps the dog’s immune system didn’t respond as expected. It’s a bit like baking a cake – you might follow the recipe to the letter, but sometimes, it just doesn’t rise.

Recently, a woman in India saved her husband from death by tackling an aggressive rhesus macaque monkey. After getting bitten twice, she got her PrEP shots. This shows that sometimes lessons are learned the hard way – like understanding you can’t vaccinate yourself against stupidity.

Reinforcing the Importance of Vaccination

Alright, let’s circle back to the heart of the matter – the importance of vaccination. It’s like the plot twist in your favorite movie, the one thing that changes everything. Despite the rare cases of vaccinated dogs contracting rabies, vaccination remains as crucial as ever. It’s like wearing a seatbelt. Sure, there’s a minuscule chance you might still get hurt in an accident, but you’re a whole lot safer with it than without it.

So, keep that in mind, my friend. Vaccination is your dog’s best defense against the rabies virus. It’s their personal bodyguard, their secret weapon, their superhero cape.

Preventing Rabies in Dogs: Best Practices for Dog Owners

Now, let’s talk about you, the dog owner. You’re the director of this show, the captain of the ship. So, what can you do? First, keep up with vaccinations. It’s like remembering your wedding anniversary – crucial and non-negotiable. Stick to the rabies vaccination schedule like glue.

Second, if you think your dog has been exposed to rabies, don’t panic. It’s like finding a spider in your room. Scary, yes, but manageable. Consult your vet immediately. They’re the superhero sidekick in this story, ready to help when needed.

 Here are some tips:

  • Keep your dog’s rabies vaccination up to date
  • Supervise your dog when they’re outside
  • Report any stray animals to your local animal control


So, there you have it. A whirlwind tour through the world of rabies and vaccination. We’ve talked about everything from rabies transmission to rabies vaccine effectiveness, from rabies symptoms to rabies vaccine side effects. We’ve explored the rare instances of rabies vaccine failure and the importance of rabies control.

It’s been a journey, my friend, but remember, every step is crucial in keeping our furry friends safe and healthy. So, let’s keep learning, keep vaccinating, and keep spreading the word. After all, a world with happy, healthy dogs is a better world for all of us.

Pro Tip: Always ask your vet about the right vaccine schedule and strategies to guard your dog against diseases like rabies.


For more information, check out these resources:

Frequently Asked Questions

Can A Vaccinated Dog Get Rabies?

Technically, it is possible for a vaccinated dog to contract rabies. However, the likelihood is very low as the vaccine is highly effective.

How Does The Rabies Vaccine Work?

The rabies vaccine works by triggering the dog’s immune system to produce antibodies that can fight the virus if the dog is ever exposed to it.

How Often Should Dogs Be Vaccinated For Rabies?

In most states, dogs are required by law to be vaccinated against rabies every 1-3 years. It is important to follow the schedule recommended by your veterinarian.

Can A Dog Get Rabies Even If It Has Been Vaccinated?

While it is possible, it is very rare for a vaccinated dog to contract rabies. It is important to ensure that your dog receives a rabies booster shot as recommended by your veterinarian to maintain protection.

What Are The Symptoms Of Rabies In Dogs?

Symptoms of rabies in dogs include fever, seizures, excessive salivation, aggression, and paralysis. If you suspect your dog may have rabies, seek veterinary care immediately.

Is It Safe To Be Around A Vaccinated Dog That Has Been Bitten By A Rabid Animal?

It is generally safe to be around a vaccinated dog that has been bitten by a rabid animal as the vaccine should provide protection. However, it is important to seek veterinary attention for the dog and take necessary precautions to prevent transmission of the virus.

Key Learning Points

  • Rabies can be fatal for humans and animals. Vaccination can reduce the risk of catching the virus. Vaccinated dogs have a lower chance of getting rabies, but it doesn’t give them immunity.
  • It’s important to take precautions. Steer clear of strange or wild animals. Get regular booster shots.
  • And if you notice fever, muscle weakness, or seizures, get professional help from a veterinarian.
  • Preventing rabies is better than worrying about ‘what if’ your pup gets it.
  • Understanding Rabies: Rabies is a deadly virus that affects the nervous system of mammals, including dogs. It is usually transmitted through a bite from an infected animal.
  • Importance of Rabies Vaccination: Vaccination is crucial in protecting dogs from rabies. The vaccine works by introducing a harmless version of the rabies virus to the dog’s immune system, training it to fight off the real virus.
  • Effectiveness and Limitations of the Rabies Vaccine: The rabies vaccine is highly effective and provides immunity for a significant period. However, there are rare instances where the vaccine might not work due to factors like improper storage or the dog’s health status.
  • Cases of Rabies in Vaccinated Dogs: There have been rare cases where vaccinated dogs have contracted rabies. Understanding why the vaccine failed in these cases can help in improving rabies prevention strategies.
  • Best Practices for Dog Owners: Dog owners should keep up with vaccinations and consult their vet immediately if they suspect their dog has been exposed to rabies.

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