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Side Effects of Rabies Vaccines in Dogs: 5 Vet Reviewed Signs

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

dog vet injection

Vet approved

Dr. Joanna Woodnutt Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Joanna Woodnutt

BVM BVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Most dogs get the rabies vaccination because it helps protect them from fatal disease. Chances are that your dog has already had a rabies vaccine or is scheduled to get their first one soon. So, you may be wondering what side effects, if any, your dog might experience after getting a rabies vaccine. There are indeed a few side effects to be aware of, and we outlined them for you here.

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Top 5 Possible Side Effects of Rabies Vaccines in Dogs

1. Mild Fever

Some dogs may develop a mild fever after receiving a rabies vaccination. Many times this should go away on its own, however, if your dog is acting sick or otherwise unwell, contact your vet immediately.

2. A Loss of Appetite

Sometimes, dogs lose their appetite for the rest of the day after being vaccinated. If this happens to your dog, try offering them a favorite treat as a snack. If their appetite does not return, you should speak with your veterinarian.

sick dog laying in bed
Image Credit: Lindsay Helms, Shutterstock

3. Lethargy

A general display of lethargy may be exhibited after your dog gets vaccinated against rabies as the body adjusts to the effects of the vaccine. The lethargy should not inhibit your dog from moving around or showing interest in companionship and shouldn’t last more than a day or two. If you have any concerns, seek help from your veterinarian.

4. Mild Swelling

Another side effect to be aware of is mild swelling at the vaccination injection site. This is considered a normal reaction in most instances, and can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. However, if your pup is painful at the site of injection, or you notice discharge, redness, or other concerns, contact your veterinarian.

a sick beagle dog lying on the floor
Image Credit: Elena Loza, Shutterstock

5. Facial Swelling and Hives

In rare cases, a dog may be allergic to the rabies vaccination that they are given and could develop facial swelling and/or hives on their body. These symptoms typically mean that the dog requires immediate veterinarian care to get the allergic reaction under control. If left untreated, the side effects could result in serious health problems or even death.

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What to Do If Your Dog Shows Signs of Side Effects

Not all signs of side effects require a reaction from you. A slight fever, a bit of lethargy, and a short-term lack of appetite are nothing to worry about unless other symptoms are also present. If you don’t feel comfortable with the way that your dog is reacting to their rabies vaccination, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian immediately or visit an emergency vet center in your area. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

veterinarian taking care of an akita inu dog
Image Credit: PintoArt, Shutterstock

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Many parts of the United States mandate rabies vaccinations for dogs, but the scheduling of the vaccines may vary depending on exactly where you live. It is important to understand the possible side effects of this type of vaccine so you know what to look for when supervising your dog after each time they get vaccinated. If you are ever in doubt, reach out to your veterinarian for guidance and support.

Featured Image Credit: Photographee, Shutterstock

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