Can A Dog Get Rabies If Vaccinated

Protecting Your Furry Friend: Can a Dog Get Rabies If Vaccinated?

Rabies is a serious viral disease that affects mammals, including dogs and humans. It is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals, usually through bites or scratches, and attacks the nervous system, leading to symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle weakness, seizures, and behavioral changes. Without prompt treatment, rabies is almost always fatal in humans and animals. Therefore, vaccinating your dog against rabies is crucial for their health and safety, as well as for public health.

However, some pet owners may wonder whether a dog can still get rabies even if they have been vaccinated. This question may arise from various reasons, such as hearing conflicting information from different sources, experiencing unusual symptoms in their dog, or facing a potential exposure to rabies. To answer this question comprehensively, let’s explore the science behind rabies vaccination and its effectiveness in preventing rabies in dogs.

Understanding Rabies Vaccination

A rabies vaccine works by stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies that can recognize and neutralize the rabies virus if it enters the body. The vaccine contains an inactivated or weakened form of the virus that cannot cause disease but can trigger an immune response. Once the dog receives the vaccine, their body will create memory cells that remember how to fight off the virus in case of future exposure. This process takes several weeks to complete, which is why most states require dogs to receive a booster shot every one to three years after the initial vaccination.

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The effectiveness of a rabies vaccine depends on several factors, such as the type of vaccine used, the timing and frequency of administration, and the individual dog’s immune response. Generally speaking, modern rabies vaccines are highly effective at preventing rabies in dogs when given according to proper protocol. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccinating dogs and other pets has helped to control and eliminate rabies in many parts of the world, including the United States. However, no vaccine is 100% foolproof, and there is always a small risk of breakthrough infection or vaccine failure.

Can a Dog Get Rabies If Vaccinated?

Now, let’s address the main question: Can a dog get rabies if vaccinated? The short answer is yes, but the chances are extremely rare. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), documented cases of rabies in dogs that were properly vaccinated against rabies are exceedingly rare, with only a handful reported each year in the United States. In most cases, these dogs were either immunocompromised due to underlying health conditions or received an improper or expired vaccine.

It’s worth noting that some dogs may experience adverse reactions after receiving a rabies vaccine, such as mild fever, lethargy, swelling at the injection site, or allergic reactions. These side effects are usually mild and temporary and can be managed with proper care and medication. However, in rare cases, dogs may develop more severe reactions, such as anaphylaxis or immune-mediated diseases. Therefore, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian if you notice any unusual symptoms in your dog after vaccination.

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What Should You Do If Your Dog Is Exposed to Rabies?

If your dog comes into contact with an animal that may have rabies, such as a wild animal or an unvaccinated domestic animal, you should take immediate action to protect your pet and yourself from potential infection. Here are some steps you can follow:

– Keep your dog away from the suspect animal and do not let them touch or play with it.
– Wear gloves and other protective clothing when handling your dog or cleaning up any wounds.
– Wash any bite wounds or scratches on your dog with soap and water for at least 15 minutes.
– Contact your veterinarian or local animal control agency to report the exposure and get advice on further steps.
– Depending on the situation, your dog may need to be quarantined or tested for rabies, or receive booster shots or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if deemed necessary.

Remember that rabies is a serious and potentially deadly disease, and prevention is key. By vaccinating your dog against rabies and practicing responsible pet ownership, such as keeping your dog on a leash, avoiding contact with stray animals, and reporting any suspicious behavior, you can help protect your furry friend and others from this dangerous virus.


In conclusion, while it’s theoretically possible for a dog to get rabies if vaccinated, the risk is extremely low and mainly limited to exceptional circumstances. Vaccinating your dog against rabies is a safe and effective way to prevent this deadly disease and comply with legal requirements in most states. If you have any concerns or questions about rabies vaccination or exposure, consult your veterinarian or other qualified experts. Remember to keep your dog healthy and happy by providing them with proper care, attention, exercise, and love. And don’t forget to give them some treats and belly rubs too – after all, they deserve it!