Vaccination against rabies can harm your dog in countless ways – often permanently. Below are just 65 of those ways.
One of the things that upset me most as a holistic veterinarian is our outdated rabies vaccination laws. Dogs must be vaccinated against rabies every three years in the US and most of Canada. The first rabies vaccination required in most US states is a one-year shot, followed by three-year booster shots.
According to Ronald Schultz PhD, none of these laws account for the real duration of immunity from rabies vaccines, which last at least 7 years and probably for the life of the animal.
Neither do the thousands of veterinarians in the US who still vaccinate for rabies every year. Although neither the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) guidelines nor law require annual vaccinations, they still do it.
Does the rabies vaccine kill dogs?
In some dogs, the rabies vaccine has caused serious side effects, including death. Your veterinarian should be contacted if you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior after receiving the rabies booster shot.
In most cases, dogs that receive rabies vaccinations too early or too often develop serious side effects. Rabies vaccines should not be given to puppies with compromised immune systems until their immune systems are mature enough to handle them.
You may see swelling at the injection site and possibly hives on other parts of the body if your dog has an allergic reaction to the rabies vaccine. As well as causing swelling of the face, breathing difficulty, seizures, and even death, a severe allergic reaction can also cause difficulty breathing.
1. He is the healthiest dog I have ever seen and has never been sick in his life. My 9-year-old springer spaniel was killed by rabies vaccination. There was a reaction to a vaccine my dog received at the veterinarian’s office. Walking and standing were difficult for him because he was lethargic. Two days later, we took him to the emergency vet, where he passed away. He appeared to have suffered a stroke, according to the emergency vet.
2. My dog’s rabies vaccination would have been more successful if I had known about vaccine reactions beforehand. I had a 9-month-old English Mastiff puppy who was healthy, happy, and energetic. He began vomiting and having diarrhea shortly after receiving the vaccine. Seizures followed, followed by death.
3. My dog died from a rabies vaccine. Cash was a gorgeous, gentle, intelligent, and loving Weimaraner named Cash. Besides being a show dog, he was a wonderful companion. Two days after receiving the Nobivac rabies vaccine, Cash started showing signs of illness. Many other dogs have died from this rabies vaccine. He became lethargic, moved slowly, and didn’t seem interested in food or water. As a normal reaction, I dismissed it.
It was only a matter of time until he recovered from being sedated at his grooming appointment prior to the vaccine. After a few days, Cash became much worse, so I took him to our vet, who diagnosed him with pancreatitis and gave him medication. When his condition did not improve, I took him back to the vet, where he was diagnosed with an infection in his intestines, which was treated with antibiotics and painkillers, but still, his condition did not improve. After that, he developed acute diarrhea containing blood. Since Cash hadn’t eaten or drunk anything for over a week, he was very weak.
Why Should I Dread Another Rabies Vaccine for My Dog?
All vaccinations come with some risks, which must be weighed against their benefits. Since rabies is a fatal disease, is present in the United States, and is carried by wild animals (bats, raccoons, and skunks are the most common vectors), and since we live in an area where all three of those vectors are present, I think that immunization against rabies is an excellent idea. There are a number of studies that demonstrate that dogs can be immunized against rabies with fewer vaccinations – and that the rabies vaccine can have serious adverse effects on dogs.
I have experienced anecdotally that rabies vaccinations are more likely to adversely affect senior dogs. Rupert, my last senior dog, had suffered from environmental and dietary allergies his entire life. With assiduous diet management, these were fairly well under control in his later years.
He did, however, have a massive allergy flare-up within a month of his last rabies shot, and it took some time to get the allergies under control again. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard friends and acquaintances say, It wasn’t long after my senior dog’s last rabies shot that he fell apart! It’s possible that all of these were coincidental; after all, senior dogs are statistically more likely to suffer from any form of health problem. A dog that has already been immunized against the disease is not at risk of these adverse effects!
To reduce the number of unnecessary vaccinations our dogs would need over their lifetimes, the Rabies Challenge Fund has been advocating for a decade to extend the legal requirement for rabies vaccinations to five and then seven years. The work of this non-profit, which has been funded to date largely by breed clubs and individual dog owners, will benefit countless millions of dogs. (Note: If you are looking for a great charity to support, consider this one).
Rabies Challenge Fund reported on January 25, 2018, that four years after dogs received two doses of rabies virus vaccine, they were protected from live rabies virus challenge. For the 6.5-year and 7-year post-vaccination periods, additional data are still being collected and analyzed. In other words, the Fund’s studies are proving what had been hypothesized: rabies vaccinations work longer than their makers were willing to prove, so dogs do not need as many vaccinations to be protected from contracting the disease and infecting others over their lifetimes.
Changing state laws, to extend vaccination requirements, will require some time after these promising results are published.
Is it possible for a rabies shot to make your dog sick?
Some dogs may experience side effects from the rabies vaccine, but these are usually mild and short-lived. Soreness, swelling, and hair loss at the injection site; lethargy; fever; and decreased appetite are the most common side effects.
Rarely, dogs may develop severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to vaccinations, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, and facial swelling within minutes of receiving the vaccine. It is possible to die from severe allergic reactions if they are left untreated.
Is it possible for the rabies vaccine to cause paralysis in dogs?
Rabies vaccines are extremely rare to cause serious adverse reactions, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Injection site soreness, swelling, or hair loss are the most common adverse reactions.
It is estimated that one in a million dogs vaccinated against rabies will experience a serious side effect, such as an allergic reaction, swelling of their faces, or lameness. Even rarer is paralysis.
Vaccinations increase the risk of disease
The one-year rabies vaccine is often accepted by dog owners because it’s cheaper, and because they don’t know two important facts:
- There is no difference between the one-year rabies vaccine and the three-year rabies vaccine.
- There are many ways in which the rabies vaccine can harm your dog. The risk of your dog experiencing an adverse vaccine reaction increases with each vaccination.
That’s what I want to tell you.
In my years of practice, I have witnessed all of the reactions listed below to the rabies vaccine.
The damage can occur immediately or months later
It’s rare for conventional veterinarians to recognize rabies vaccine damage until your dog has an immediate reaction while he’s still in the clinic.
One small vaccine can cause not only immediate illness but also long-term, dangerous, chronic diseases that can alter the course of your dog’s life.
Vaccine reactions are more likely to occur when dogs get multiple vaccines at once, and small dogs are more likely to suffer from ill effects since they receive the same dose as big dogs.
Legal Requirements for Rabies Vaccines
A veterinarian can help you apply for an exemption from your state or local animal control authorities if you wish to avoid vaccinating your dog. There are different requirements in each state (again, see RabiesAware.org); in California, a veterinarian must submit an exemption request every year and prove that rabies vaccination would endanger your dog’s life.
Some people have reported their senior dogs to their local animal control agencies as “deceased” after being unable to convince a veterinarian of the risk of a fifth, sixth, or even seventh rabies vaccine.
I am not sure if I would be able to pull off Otto’s high-profile job (modeling for WDJ and its Instagram page). The deadline for finding an alternative is October 28. Currently, Otto is unlicensed due to the fact that my city’s animal control department will not renew Otto’s license until his legal rabies vaccination period is longer than the licensing period. The fines will be much higher if he is picked up as a stray or bites someone before all this is resolved. That doesn’t mean either of those things will happen, but still…)
In no way am I being frivolous about a disease that can be fatal. My four-times vaccinated dog has virtually no chance of getting or transmitting the virus – and he is more likely to be adversely affected by the vaccine. In my opinion, four vaccines should be enough, and I am looking for a way to avoid getting any more vaccines while remaining within the law.
Is a rabies shot really necessary for my dog?
In fact, yes. The rabies vaccine is required by law in most parts of the United States and several other countries. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats can transmit this disease to cats and dogs. Infecting the central nervous system leads to brain damage and death from rabies.
Rabies vaccines are mandatory because they protect not just pets, but also humans.
Rabies is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans. You and your family can contract rabies if your pet contracts the disease.
It’s important for pet owners to understand how the disease is transmitted, how to vaccinate their pets, and what to do if their pet has been exposed to rabies.
Rabies vaccine side effects in dogs: how long do they last?
Rabies vaccine side effects are rare and usually mild. Generally, the injection site is sore, swollen, or uncomfortable for a few days after injection. The pain can last one or two days and be relieved with painkillers.
The Rabies Vaccine Is Not Safe
The following is a description of the risks you take when you vaccinate your dog for rabies.
There are few side effects associated with rabies vaccination, most conventional vets will tell you. Holistic veterinarians, including myself, have a very different perspective. Rabies vaccination causes so much damage to pets that we have learned to recognize its shocking effects.
There are three different categories of common reactions to rabies vaccines.
Problems that are acute
Rabies vaccines can cause acute reactions within a few days or immediately afterward. Acute (as opposed to chronic) reactions to the rabies vaccine are more likely to be recognized by conventional veterinarians.
Rabies vaccines aren’t the only cause of acute reactions, but any vaccine can trigger them.
Vomiting, Facial swelling, Lethargy, Injection site swelling or lump, Pruritus (itching), Urticaria (hives), Circulatory shock, Injection site pain, Injection site alopecia (hair loss), Death, Anaphylaxis (which can kill your dog in minutes), Ataxia (loss of balance/coordination), Loss of consciousness, Diarrhea Hypersensitivity, Fever, Lameness, General signs of pain, Hyperactivity, Injection site scab or crust, Muscle tremor
- The development of rabies antibodies can lead to seizures (which can happen immediately after vaccination or after 7 to 9 days)
- A tumor can develop at the injection site within 72 hours of injection.
- Within hours or days of rabies vaccination, sudden behavior changes can also occur, such as aggression, fear, or anxiety
- Anemia is caused by immune-mediated hemolysis (IMHA). It is also possible for this disease to become chronic
Your dog’s immune system and neurological system can be damaged by the rabies vaccine, triggering many chronic diseases. Viruses such as rabies are carcinogenic. Cancer and other chronic diseases can also be caused by toxic ingredients in vaccines, such as aluminum and mercury. It’s important to note that not only rabies vaccines can cause chronic diseases, but also a wide range of other vaccines.
A fibrocarcinoma at the injection site. People are familiar with this problem in cats (that’s why vets often vaccinate cats in the tail, so they can easily amputate it), but it’s just as common in dogs. The aluminum in the vaccine is carried away by macrophages (cells of the immune system that detect, eat, and destroy damaged cells and other foreign substances) causing fibrocarcinomas to appear in places other than the injection site.
Hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, and lymphoma are other cancers. Rabies vaccination can cause benign tumors like lipomas, warts, and other growths to grow larger or become malignant, especially if your dog is taking steroids.
Colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and chronic diarrhea are all chronic digestive issues. The rabies vaccine aggravates inflammation anywhere in the body, including the digestive tract.
Granulomatous meningioencephalitis (GME) and seizures.
Allergies to food, the environment, and inhalants. Chronic problems in dogs are extremely common. Your dog’s immune system can be damaged by vaccinations, which cause allergies. Additionally, aluminum in vaccines increases IgE levels, which are allergy immunoglobulins.
Problems with the skin. Skin problems can include dermatitis, yeast, alopecia (hair loss), hives, rashes, itchy wrists and ankles (where dogs chew themselves), abscesses, ear and eye infections and analgia. It is never “just skin issues” but rather the manifestation of a deeper underlying illness. A rabies vaccine can cause allergic reactions because Langerhan cells are constantly searching for antigens (which the rabies virus contains). Upon detecting foreign invaders (such as bacteria or viruses), Langerhan cells trigger an allergic reaction by sending out inflammatory cells.
Rabies vaccine causes a neuro-inflammatory reaction, resulting in tissue degeneration, including muscle weakness or atrophy.
An autoimmune disease, demyelination is common in German Shepherds.
Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and autoimmune thyroiditis are examples of autoimmune diseases.
Diabetes, Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease, or pancreatitis are metabolic diseases.
Problems related to chronic rabies
When the body is vaccinated against rabies, it may mimic the disease it was intended to prevent. A rabies miasm is what homeopaths call it. The rabies miasm is a deep-rooted disease caused by the rabies vaccination, but it can also be passed down through generations and cause illness even in unvaccinated dogs.
Dogs are very susceptible to rabies miasm symptoms. There is a link between some of these symptoms and rabies vaccination, but most veterinarians and dog owners are not aware of it. If your dog chases flies around the house or chase water from the hose, you may think it’s cute or funny. This is not really a symptom of rabies, but rather a symptom of vaccine damage.
Because rabies and vaccine viruses travel to the amygdala of the brain, many of these problems are behavioral.
All senses are hypersensitive – hearing, moving, touching
Dogs infected with rabies may exhibit rage, agitation, violence, ferocity, sudden attacks, unprovoked attacks, and a desire to kill.
Behaviors such as irrational fears, timidity, separation anxiety, and suspicion
Extreme fear or great desire for water is an inappropriate response. Another term for rabies, is known as hydrophobia
Obsessive/compulsive behavior – tail chasing, fly biting, chasing balls, chasing light reflected off windows or mirrors
Genital licking or excessive focal licking
Sexual drive that is excessive. There are some people who interpret chronic humping as a dominance behavior, but rabies vaccination is more likely to be the cause.
Even in neutered males, constant erections are unwarranted
Frequently or spasmodically sneezing, jaw spasms, choking, gagging, or coughing when swallowing liquids, reverse sneezing, and laryngeal spasms
Urination that is unintentional
Flea bite sensation, violent itching without apparent cause
Especially after seeing running water or shiny objects, convulsions occur
Wandering and vocalizing without purpose
A feeling of restlessness, uneasiness, apprehension, and aggressive behavior toward strangers
If your dog is normally affectionate, he may hide away and avoid the company
It is possible for your normally independent dog to become unusually attentive and affectionate
Roaming and traveling away from home for long periods of time
He bites viciously on leashes, metal chains, or anything that confines him (even breaking through glass windows or bending crate bars) when restrained.
Inflicting severe bite wounds on oneself through self-biting
The vocal cords are partially paralyzed, resulting in strange cries and hoarse howls.
A lack of interest in food or ravenous hunger
Paralysis of swallowing muscles prevents swallowing
Dilated pupils and staring eyes
Inability to close the eyes; cornea becomes dull and dry
Lower jaw hanging down
Pica – consuming inappropriate objects such as wood, stones, or feces
Clothing, blankets, and towels are destroyed
Lunar patterns are associated with convulsive seizures
Inability to coordinate muscles
Heart muscle inflammation: irregular heartbeat, fast or slow heart rate, heart failure
This is not a complete list. You can see from my experience and observations that rabies vaccination is not safe for your dog, and you should limit the number of shots your dog receives.
Here are some things you can do
Do not give your dog more rabies shots than he needs to comply with the law. According to current laws, that means every three years.
Find out what your local laws are regarding rabies vaccinations. Rabies titers are rarely accepted instead of vaccinations. Let’s push for all states and provinces to accept titers instead of repetitive vaccinations. For advice on how to change your state’s laws, contact the Rabies Challenge Fund.
I recommend submitting your blood through Hemopet for a rabies titer since they collect the data before sending it to rabies-certified laboratories such as Kansas State University and Cornell University.
There are some states that allow medical exemptions for health reasons (no unhealthy dog should ever be vaccinated). Visit the Rabies Challenge Fund for a list of state medical exemptions and ask your veterinarian to write one for you.
How is rabies transmitted?
Infected mammals carry the rabies virus in their nervous tissue. After the virus reaches the brain, it begins to be secreted in the animal’s saliva. A bite from an infected animal or person can introduce infectious saliva into the body, resulting in rabies. It is extremely rare for rabies to be transmitted from other types of exposure. It is possible for saliva or nervous tissue to enter an open wound or come into contact with a mucous membrane such as the eyes, nose, or mouth.
How can a healthy domestic dog, cat, or ferret be kept for ten days?
Dogs, cats, and ferrets only shed the rabies virus in their saliva for a short period of time (usually 4 to 5 days) before developing symptoms. The animal would not have shed the virus if it did not develop symptoms by the tenth day after exposure.
What are the symptoms of rabies in people?
After an average of 30 to 50 days (as short as 14 days or as long as a year) from exposure to a rabid animal, a person may develop an illness that includes fever, sore throat, stiff muscles, headache, tiredness, restlessness, nausea, and itching or tingling at the bite site. As the disease progresses, a person may become agitated, followed by periods of calm. When trying to drink water, severe throat spasms may cause fear of water. As the paralysis progresses, the legs become paralyzed, then the head becomes paralyzed. The majority of people die of cardiac arrest or respiratory failure within a short period of time after the onset of illness.
How long is the rabies virus infectious after it is outside of the rabid animal?
There is a great deal of fragility associated with the rabies virus. Infectious viruses are no longer spread by saliva once they have dried. Soaps, detergents, bleach, alcohol, and ultraviolet light can easily kill the virus.
Why can’t the ten-day observation period be used for other animals?
The period of viral shedding has been determined with certainty only for domestic dogs, cats, and ferrets. The period of viral shedding may be similar for other species of animals, but without more studies, there is too much uncertainty and too great a chance of error.
Are there any vaccines for wild or hybrid animals?
Vaccines for wild or hybrid animals have not yet been approved. While some zoos vaccinate their animals for rabies, this is only to protect them from the disease. A wild or hybrid animal that bites a person should be humanely destroyed and its brain tested for rabies. Rabies shots can be given to the exposed person instead of destroying the animal if the animal is a valuable specimen (at a zoo, for example).
My oath as a veterinarian is to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society by protecting animal health, relieving animal suffering, and advancing medical research.
I consider outdated rabies laws a breach of my oath and incompatible with protecting animal health or promoting public health. I consider these outdated, unscientific rabies laws to be clear defiance of scientific knowledge and skills. Our animals’ immune systems are deranged as a result of these diseases, posing a threat to society.