When should puppies have their shots? Can the canine rabies vaccine cause rabies in dogs?

Original Question: I worry that the owners may have him vaccinated in a few days and I feel it's too soon. I would rather have it done when he's more ready. I know the rabies vaccine is mandatory, but the local vet here said the 3-year vaccine has been found to cause rabies so I’m going to just go with the 1-year. What else will he require? - Lynne

When should puppies have their shots? Can the canine rabies vaccine cause rabies in dogs? Jan 20, 2019

Hi Lynne,

Thanks for your question.

The rabies vaccine is an inactivated or killed vaccine and that means that there is no risk of it causing rabies to develop as a result of vaccination. That’s not to say that there’s not a risk of serious side effects with vaccines, however, these are rare and the development of full-blown rabies is not one of these side effects. I strongly suggest that you do your own research and review the evidence and guidelines put forth by the CVMA (Canadian Veterinary Medical Association) or AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) on vaccination of puppies so that you can make the most informed decision for your pup.

I recommend you read these guidelines and go with the protocol you’re most happy with that also complies with your local legislation and in some cases that will be a yearly rabies vaccine. The need for other vaccines really depends on the disease risk in your area and the lifestyle your puppy will be leading. Core vaccines are ones that every dog would need and they generally include parvovirus, distemper and infectious hepatitis as well as rabies of course if that’s in your area that I encourage you to speak to your veterinarian about. The initial vaccine course typically starts at 6 to 8 weeks of age and it finishes then at about 16 weeks of age.

We then move on to lifestyle or more regional specific vaccines for example, leptospirosis, kennel cough, and Lyme disease to name a few. Your vet will be able to advise you on the local risks and lifestyle of your dog and therefore the need for these additional vaccines.

I hope this helps.

Dr. Alex Avery

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When should puppies have their shots? Can the canine rabies vaccine cause rabies in dogs?
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When should puppies have their shots? Can the canine rabies vaccine cause rabies in dogs?
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The rabies vaccine is an inactivated vaccine meaning there is no risk of it causing rabies to develop as a result of vaccination. That’s not to say that there's not a risk of serious side effects with vaccines, however, these are rare and the development of full-blown rabies is not one of these side effects.
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Healthcare for Pets
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