Content Reviewed by an Essentials PetCare Veterinarian

One of the most important things you can do for your pet is to protect them against rabies. An incurable and fatal disease that affects the nervous system, rabies is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal. Even humans can contract rabies. 

While there is no cure, the rabies vaccine is the best preventative method available. What’s more, it’s actually legally mandated in most states.

Let’s take a closer look at the specifics of rabies in dogs and the rabies vaccine. 

Rabies in Dogs

When an animal infected with rabies bites another, there are no immediate signs of the disease. The virus can be dormant for weeks – or even months. By the time symptoms do become noticeable, infected animals will have suffered irreversible inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Because there is no treatment, vaccination is necessary and required by law

Has your pet been bitten by a wild animal, such as a fox, skunk, coyote, or raccoon? If so, you must notify your veterinarian immediately for treatment recommendations. You should also be careful handling your pet: do not touch them! Instead, wrap them in a towel quickly and wear gloves to avoid any transmission.

If your pet has not been vaccinated against rabies, the recommendation for your own safety is typically euthanasia of the pet. This is because the only way to test for rabies is by examination of brain tissue. Otherwise, the pet will typically require a strict isolation period for up to six months based on local county and state ordinances. There is no other alternative. Bitten pets who do have a history of rabies vaccines should receive a vaccine booster to increase their chances of survival.

It should also be noted that titer testing is not a form of testing for rabies infection. Again, the only test for infection requires examination of brain tissue by a pathologist. Plus, titer testing cannot be used to prevent an animal from requiring the rabies vaccine. Titers are used to prove vaccination status for travel and shipping purposes, but they are not a legally recognized form of proof of immunity

You can quickly find detailed information for every state in the nation regarding rabies vaccine laws and recommendations following human or animal exposure to rabies at

Symptoms of Rabies 

An animal with rabies will show gradual paralysis over time. They’ll also show some or all of the following physical and behavioral symptoms:

  • Skittish and nervous demeanor
  • Extreme friendliness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased, unexplainable aggression
  • Withdrawn behavior

Foaming at the mouth is often depicted as the telltale sign of the disease, but not all animals with rabies will experience this. However, if an animal is suffering from paralytic rabies, this is a possible symptom as a result of extreme salivation. 

Alternatively, a previously friendly dog may present with furious rabies (sometimes known as “mad dog rabies”). This can cause them to turn vicious and bite.

Rabies Vaccine for Dogs

Rabies vaccines are mandated by law in most states as a matter of pet safety and public health concern. This core vaccine is effective at preventing contraction of the disease

How does the rabies vaccine work? When given prior to rabies exposure and at recommended intervals, the vaccine introduces a safe, active immunizing agent to your pet’s system. In response, your pet produces antibodies that fight the virus that causes rabies if it becomes exposed to the virus.

Vaccination Schedule 

Puppies and kittens should be vaccinated for rabies starting at 12-16 weeks old. To determine the best rabies vaccine plan for your pet in accordance with state law, consult with your veterinarian. 

That being said, below is an approximation of a typical rabies vaccination schedule:

  • 16-18 weeks old for first shot
  • 1-year booster after first rabies shot
  • Continued rabies vaccinations every 1-3 years, depending on your state and pet
  • Annual routine wellness exams, to ensure your pet has no signs of the disease

Vaccination Packages at Essentials PetCare

At Essentials PetCare, we are committed to providing your pet with affordable and accessible care. This includes core vaccines like the rabies vaccine. 

Our vaccination packages for both dogs and cats range from $60-$180, and all our vaccine packages include a doctor’s exam. Additionally, we can administer the rabies vaccine as a single service for just $40.

Vaccination visits here take only 15 minutes on average. Come in and see us today to ensure the health of your pet – and your human loved ones!

Essential Tip: Preventative pet care costs less with our bundled service packages. Head on over to our services page to see what we offer.


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