Side Effects of Rabies Vaccine in Dogs

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Rabies is a worrying disease that most of us have heard about. Vaccinating your dog against rabies is required by law in many places, however, it’s good for pet parents to know about the possible side effects of the rabies vaccine before it’s administered to their pet.


So in this article, we’ll explain the side effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs, by answering the following questions:

  • What are the side effects of a rabies vaccine?
  • How long do rabies vaccine side effects last in dogs?
  • Do dogs act differently after the rabies shot?
  • What are the symptoms of rabies?
  • Do dogs sleep a lot after the rabies vaccine?


Vaccinating your pet dog against rabies gives them the best possible protection against this serious and often fatal disease. That being said, it’s good for pet parents to know what to expect following your dog’s rabies vaccination, so let’s get started!


Disclaimer: Please refer to the information in this article as a guide only. If you want more information about vaccinating your pet, contact your veterinarian. 

What are the side effects of a rabies vaccine?

Vaccinations involve exposing an animal (or person) to an inactivated or killed sample of a disease-causing microorganism. The idea is, that if the previously vaccinated animal or person comes into contact with an infectious organism for a second time, then their immune system will be better prepared, and illicit a response that is faster and more effective.


This means, that if your pet comes into contact with the virus naturally, then their immune system will most likely be able to overcome it. In the case of a disease that is usually fatal, such as rabies, vaccination is especially important and required by law in many places.

How long do rabies vaccine side effects last in dogs?

Just like with us humans, sometimes dogs feel a little under the weather after a vaccination. This is usually nothing to worry about and passes after a few days, however, if you’re worried about your pet, it’s best to give your veterinarian a call. 


In rare cases, some dogs can develop a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, in response to vaccinations. If you notice some of the following symptoms in your pet, it’s best to take them to a veterinarian immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Small, raised bumps on the skin (hives).

Vaccinations, regular veterinary dental and general check-ups, and treating your pet against parasites are great ways to help keep your pet healthy and happy and are recommended by veterinarians.

Do dogs act differently after a rabies shot?

As we mentioned earlier, after a vaccination dogs can sometimes not feel their best. This means they may be a little more tired than usual, and a little sore at the injection site. This is nothing to worry about and should pass within a few days. 

What are the symptoms of rabies?

The rabies virus causes a serious, and usually fatal disease. Animals and humans can become infected with rabies, following the bite of an affected animal or less commonly the saliva from an infected animal coming into direct contact with a wound.

 In many places, the virus is sadly spread through infected wildlife and oral vaccination campaigns aim to target the problem in wildlife. 


The course of the disease is short and progresses through these stages and symptoms following contact with infected saliva from a wound or a bite:

  •   Prodromal phase – after an animal is bitten, they change their behavior for a few days. This means that they become the opposite of their usual character, calm dogs may be more active and dogs who are usually not calm become more quiet.
  • Dogs then progress into one of the following stages:
  • Furious – dogs in this stage are very excited and may eat or chew anything accessible to them. At some point, they then become paralyzed and have a fatal seizure.
  • Dumb – dogs who suffer from this form slowly become paralyzed before entering a coma and passing away.

Any animal, even a pet who is suspected to have rabies should be approached with extreme caution. Since this disease is not treatable, it is considered fatal and must be reported to the relevant authority.

Diagnosing rabies is difficult as the only way to confirm the presence of the virus is by looking for it under a microscope from a sample of brain tissue, and hence, is only possible after the animal has died. 

Currently, the best chance a human or animal has, of surviving rabies is if they have been previously vaccinated. Vaccination allows the body to quickly produce the antibodies needed to give the best chance of overcoming an infection.

Do dogs sleep a lot after the rabies vaccine?

As we mentioned earlier, some dogs may temporarily feel a little worse for wear after their vaccination. This means they may decide to sleep it off until their body overcomes the virus and there is usually nothing to worry about.


Dog Relax Toys

Here are a few dog toys that might help calm your four-legged friend before their vaccination:


We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article about the side effects of the rabies vaccine. Rabies is a serious, and almost always fatal disease, with vaccination being required by law in many places, it’s good for pet parents to be aware of possible side effects before vaccinating their pet. 

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