Can Rabies Vaccination Cause Rabies (+ when should I vaccinate my puppy)?
Are you wondering "when should I vaccinate my puppy?" or have you even hear that rabies vaccination can cause rabies in puppies?
In this #DrAlexAnswers episode I discuss the side-effects of rabies vaccination, the best time to vaccinate a puppy, as well as the other general preventative healthcare activities you should be carrying out in your puppy.
When should I vaccinate my young puppy?
What vaccines does he need and what else will he require?
Also, can the rabies vaccine cause rabies?
So this owner has got a 4-week-old little puppy and they're just worried that vaccinations at the moment are just inappropriate, that the puppy is too young, that they're not ready, and they're just wondering about rabies vaccination in their area. It's definitely mandatory, so they’ll need to have that done but they've heard that the 3-year rabies vaccine has been found to cause rabies! So they're going to go with the 1-year and they're also wondering what else will be required.
Can the rabies vaccine cause rabies?
So let's start with the rabies vaccine. They are inactivated or killed vaccines, and that means that there's no risk of them 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, but these are very, very rare and the development of full-blown rabies is not one of these side effects.
That being said, the 1-year rabies vaccine works as well. It will probably result in your dog being vaccinated for rabies more than they need but again the risk of side effects (although you'll read a lot about them) is actually very, very rare.
So go with whatever protocol you're most happy with, which also complies with your local legislation and in some cases that will be a yearly rabies vaccine.
What vaccines will my puppy need?
So the need for other vaccines really depends on the disease risk in your area and the lifestyle your puppy will be leading. So core vaccines, which are ones that every dog would get, they generally include parvovirus, distemper and infectious hepatitis as well as rabies of course if that’s in your area.
We then move on to lifestyle or more regional specific vaccines and that could include, for example, leptospirosis, kennel cough is a really common one, and Lyme disease might be another one. So your vet will be able to advise you on the local risks and the need for these additional vaccines. And like I say, that's the local risks, but also based on your lifestyle.
So if you've got a dog, even if there's kennel cough around but they never meet another dog, they're never going into kennels, they're not doing training, they're not going to doggy daycare then kennel cough vaccine won't be appropriate compared to another dog who is mixing with lots of other dogs in different situations.
The best age to vaccinate a puppy
Now, if we think about the initial vaccine course, well that typically starts at 6 to 8 weeks of age and it finishes then at about 16 weeks of age. So that's what we need to consider from that point of view.
If you are wondering about what vaccines your older dog will need and how often to get them vaccinated, I discuss this in an article “The Truth About Titre Testing in Dogs”.
Remember to socialize + treat for parasites
And then the other main health considerations for a young puppy would be parasite control and socialization which is absolutely vital. So the biggest cause of death and re-homing in dogs under the age of 3 is due to behavioral problems which will often come about through a lack of socialization and that's something that I have spoken about and cover in another article about the importance of puppy socialization. And then the other thing to think about is also feeding a high quality diet consistent with the needs of your dog’s specific breed.
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