What is the recommended rabies vaccination schedule for puppies?
Original Question: Our puppy received his rabies shot at a microchip clinic instead of our vet this past spring. He's 9 months old now. The rabies vaccine given was a 3 year vaccine . The vet tech at our regular vet mentioned that even though he got a 3 year dose, because he is a puppy he will need another rabies vaccine a year from when it was administered. Our vet only dispenses the 1 year vaccine. Can you explain if this is true and why it wouldn't be 3 years? - Anonymous
I’m Dr. Clayton Greenway for healthcareforpets.com and we’re answering questions this morning. Here’s one it says, “we had our puppy receive his rabies shot at a microchip clinic instead of our vet this past spring. He’s nine months old now, the rabies vaccine given was a three-year vaccine. The veterinary technician at our regular vet mentioned that even though we got a three-year dose, because he’s a puppy, he’ll need another rabies vaccine in a year. Our vet only dispenses the one-year vaccine. Can you explain if this is true and why it wouldn’t be three years?”
So basically, when dogs are vaccinated, there is core vaccination and what that means is, there’s certain vaccines they get when they’re a puppy. Rabies is usually required by law in a lot of places in North America and so it’s part of the core vaccination for puppies. Usually it’s given at 16 weeks, you’re going to want to talk to your veterinarian about their protocol, but that’s fairly standard across the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as well as the Canadian one as well. Basically, there’s a one-year rabies and a three-year rabies. When you give a three-year rabies to a puppy, you do have to booster it one year later and then you go to every three years. There is a one-year rabies vaccine and the difference between the one-year rabies and the three-year rabies vaccine is virtually nothing. They’re pretty much the same and I know that’s complicated, but it has to do, I think, with the legalities of rabies vaccination and I’ve spoken with some of the companies that manufacture these vaccines and there might be a little bit of difference in the way they’re manufactured but they even say virtually they’re the same vaccine. It depends on which company you’re talking to.
So I always recommend a three-year rabies vaccine over a one-year. Your veterinarian may want to do a one year, sometimes I wonder if it’s because it’s easy to record it and you know you have to give it every year. Really, you would be giving a one-year vaccine if you’re at a much greater risk of your dog getting rabies and that’s pretty uncommon. As I’d like to say, really only use the one-year if your dog is going out and playing with a pack of rabid wolves every day. Aside from that, I would recommend you use the three-year because let’s face it, you’re giving less vaccination, you’re putting in less antigen into the dog’s body, less adjuvant, and that’s just healthier.
So I always try to do a minimum but appropriate protective vaccination. You’re really going to want to watch our vaccination videos (Vaccine Boosters and Titer Testing for Dogs and Cats, Which Vaccines Should I Give My Cat or Dog?, and Vaccine Reactions in Dogs and Cats) about that where I discuss this a little more thoroughly, and you’re going to want to talk to your veterinarian, but in the end, vaccines are really about protecting them against the disease they may be at risk of getting. So you have to look at their lifestyle, you have to look at where you live, but with rabies, usually it’s enforced by law. Thanks for sending in this question, thanks for coming to healthcareforpets.com where we’re dedicated to your pet’s health and keep sending in those questions.
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