When Should You Really Vaccinate Your Puppy Against Rabies?

At what age should you give your puppy their first rabies vaccination?

Well, you need to consider the risk of disease, local legislation and the vaccine licensing…and they aren’t always the same.

 
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My final question is: is it okay that a puppy has been injected with an anti-rabies shot at the age of two months?

Rabies vaccine legislation vs licencing

Age of vaccination is definitely something to think about and different vaccines are licensed for use at different ages and with different protocols. The answer really depends on the vaccine given. Also, depending on which country you're in and which state you're in (especially if you're in the US) then there are different legislative requirements which detail when rabies vaccination must be given.

These two timings aren't always the same. The vaccine license doesn't always tie in with the state legislation.

So it might be that a vaccine can be given earlier, and it actually maybe beneficial to give it earlier, but then the state legislation requires that a vaccine is actually given a little bit later. So that may mean that you decide to give a pet more vaccines then they may strictly need just to cover that early risk while they're young and also the legislative requirements as well.

Youngest puppy rabies vaccination

So with the rabies vaccines that I'm familiar with, they can definitely be given from as young as four weeks of age, but they will always require that final initial vaccination course booster, or even single vaccination, to be given at 12 weeks of age or older. So if a dog is being vaccinated at a younger age, so at two months here, then they will need a second vaccination at 12 weeks of age or older like I say to also comply with that state legislation. Really, it’s a risk benefit assessment.

We want to give the vaccinations that a dog needs without over vaccinating. So if the risk of rabies is incredibly low, if you're actively supervising your young puppy, you're not letting them mix with wildlife, unknown dogs, or other unknown animals, then giving an earlier vaccine is probably not going to be needed because the risk of them contracting that disease is very low. This is the same idea when considering when to vaccinate for parvovirus, distemper or any other of these vaccine preventable diseases.

If there's really a low risk then we don't need to worry about vaccinating them really early.

Local disease risk

Having said that, if there is a risk, if there is a known problem in the area, if there's an outbreak, or if the lifestyle of you and your dog means that they are going to be in high risk situations, then getting them that earlier vaccine is definitely going to be beneficial. It is so important that we remember that for a lot of these diseases really young pups are super sensitive to and they often have a high fatality rate.

Obviously, rabies is pretty much 100% fatality rate naturally, but certainly if a dog has got rabies they're going to need to be euthanized because that's a massive human health risk and that's something we definitely don't want to overlook.

So really, talk to your vet about the local risks for your dog in conjunction with your lifestyle as well, and then also discuss what the legislation means that your dog will need later on if they have had that earlier vaccination. So we definitely want to think of both of those things so that your dog is both safe and also complies with whatever laws are around where you live.


The above is a transcript taken from “The Dr Alex Answers Show”.

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