The Rabies Vaccine and Your Dog: Side Effects

Written by Jan on June 18, 2008 – 4:39 pm

Rabies Vaccine Adverse Reactions

The rabies vaccine is arguably the most dangerous shot our dogs get. Because it’s required by law, it’s a difficult shot to avoid. Because the vaccine is made from a “killed” virus, rather than “modified live” virus as are the other important “core” vaccines, manufacturers add dangerous “adjuvants” to boost effectiveness. These adjuvants too often cause adverse reactions, some of which occur quickly, but many of which occur days, weeks or even months after vaccination. A “killed” vaccine (rather than one from a modified live virus), the rabies vaccine contains adjuvants (chemical boosters) to enhance the immunological response. In 1999, the World Health Organization “classified veterinary vaccine adjuvants as Class III/IV carcinogens with Class IV being the highest risk.”

My year-old Maltese Jiggy developed autoimmune liver disease after a rabies shot. Rabies Challenge Fund Founder Kris Christine lost her dog Meadow to a vaccination site fibrosarcoma (cancer). Countless other dogs have developed anaphylactic shock; autoimmune diseases affecting the thyroid, joints, blood, eyes, skin, kidney, liver, bowel and central nervous system; seizures and epilepsy; autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA); aggression, separation anxiety and strange compulsive behaviors; lack of muscular coordination; skin disease; fibrosarcomas at injection sites and countless other disorders. Click here to learn more about adverse reactions to the rabies shot.

But the vaccine is required by law, so what can you do about it?

First, if you can trace your dog’s illness to the shot, you may have a better chance of treating it. A steroids and Benadryl shot may stop an allergic reaction, but will likely do nothing for on-going problems.

Second, if your dog has a documented history of problems with this or any other vaccination, you may be able to get a special exemption from your local Animal Control. Your vet needs to be told about any reactions immediately. Make sure they’re documented. Get a copy of the file.

Third, because of an amazing study by the Rabies Challenge Fund, we now have the opportunity to help extend the period between shots to up to seven years, maybe even longer. Even a $5 tax deductible donation to this fund can make a big difference.

Click this link for more information on the rabies vaccine and rabies vaccine reactions and learn how to document and report the reaction (so you can get an exemption from the shot next time), plus protective measures you can take to make the shot safer.  Find a holistic vet to help you undo the damage from the shot.  Don’t wait too long. Time is important when dealing with reactions.

Please post your questions, stories or comments here. And please read all the previous comments. There’s a lot of good information here including answers to many questions.  Click “comment” below.

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Related articles:
What to Do When Your Dog Has a Vaccine Reaction
Does Your State Permit Rabies Vaccination Medical Exemptions? 
Rabies Vaccination: 13 Ways to Vaccinate More Safely

Rabies Vaccination: Caution! The Devil is in the Details
Vaccinating Unhealthy Pets: Beware Reactions & Vaccine Failure
Vaccinating Dogs: 10 Steps to Eliminating Unnecessary Shots
Vaccinating Small Dogs: Risks Vets Aren’t Revealing
Titer Test: Don’t Vaccinate Your Dog Unnecessarily
Dog Flu Vaccine: Do You Really Need a Shot for the H3N8 Canine Virus?
Is Your Dog’s Vet a Vaccination Expert?

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458 Comments to “The Rabies Vaccine and Your Dog: Side Effects”


  1. Ted Says:

    I have a question regarding rabies vaccinations because of an issue with dog licensing in NJ. Our puppy had her rabies vaccine (one year) last July. The town requires the dog to be licensed in January and to have a vaccine that does not expire until at least November 1st of the current year. Our preference is to wait until July when her vaccine should be due, but the town is now harassing us about this. The state says that there is no evidence of harmful effects for giving the vaccine early. They only grant the license if a vet provides a medical waiver for it. Is it bad to give the vaccine early or should we try to find a vet who will give us a letter to waive it?

    Thank you for any insight you can provide.

  2. Deborah Peppe Says:

    When my Lucy got her first shots as a puppy, she got so sick she had to stay at Vet office for six days and $700.00 later, with no explanation of why. She is small and has skin issues. When I read this kind of stuff, I go crazy, these Vets are as bad as MD’s. I have paid a small fortune for testing and lab work and poor Lucy is not any better. It’s been like this all her life.
    She will no longer go the clone Vets, I have a Holistic Vet. that I will take her to now. There is a saying that we, as humans will be judged by God on how we treat animals. We are one with the Cosmos, one with nature, and one with each other and our Mother Earth will not be whole until all of us realize, treat the mind and mind will do the healing, that’s the principle and the law of all things created.

  3. Patricia L Henderson Says:

    My 14 year old terrier/chihuahua mix is still sore around his shoulder blade two months after rabies shot. If he moves wrong, he yelps so we know it is still sore. There is no bump, just a sore spot. Not sure if this is normal. When he yelps, he looks at us as if we hit him, which we have never done. This was a 3 year vacine, and I think this will be his last. I appreciate any advice you can give us. Thank you.

  4. Jan Says:

    Patricia, do you feel any swelling, or just detect pain? Swelling that still remains after 2 months needs to be examined. Even if there’s no swelling, it’s still a good idea to report it. Your vet might recommend some light massage. Also, call the vaccine manufacturer. Report the pain and ask them what to do. http://truth4pets.org/reporting-reactions/

    Rabies vaccines are supposed to be given in the right upper leg. Shame on your vet for not knowing that. It has been protocol for years. That way, any lump is much more easily removed. You might need another, more informed vet. Here’s some more vaccination information you might want to read to make sure your vet isn’t over-vaccinating. http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/

  5. Janet Says:

    I believe my 14 yr. old Standard Poodle developed a blood liver disorder following a rabies vaccine. She was given the shot on 4/18/16 and was dead 6/8/16.
    I hate myself for giving in to the vet.
    I wish I broke the law and did not vaccinate her.

  6. Jan Says:

    Janet, I’m so sorry for your loss. Please report the reaction to the USDA and the drug maker. This is the only hope for change. http://truth4pets.org/reporting-reactions/

  7. Kimberly Roberts Says:

    My vet accidently gave a rabies shot to my dog when it wasn’t due for another year. He is a 3 year old french bulldog and weighs 29lbs. He is in good health other than allergies. This just happened 10 days ago(husband took to vet instead of me and is not up on their shot status…….also a new vet but did receive shot records). I am concerned as I don’t want him harmed by over medicating. Is there any lasting effect from this? Thank you for your help!

  8. Jan Says:

    Kimberly, only time will tell if your dog has experienced any harm. Probably not. Just be on the look out for changes in health and behavior (like increased aggression). Write again if you have any suspicions. And remember that even “routine” shots are serious medical events. Maybe your “new” vet should become your “old vet.” Make sure the error was noted in your dog’s file. And please read this before vaccinating again: http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/

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