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


  1. Jill Says:

    My 4 month old puppy got her first rabies vax today, 5 hours later we were playing rough and she bit and broke the skin on me. Since it is a dead virus, I am in no risk of developing rabies right?
    Jillianhanes@yahoo.com

  2. Jan Says:

    Jill, I can’t imagine it would be a problem (although I’m neither a vet nor an MD). A rabid animal would have to bite you to transmit rabies. Your dog may have soreness at the vax site so be careful for a few days.

  3. Kathy Says:

    I purchased a beautiful 5 month old French Bulldog puppy and took him to my local vet for a “well puppy check” and to establish him with the vet for routine care. I was provided with all the puppy’s shot records showing that he was current on all his vaccines for the vet to have record of them. His records confirmed that he had received his first rabies shot 5 days prior to this vet visit. Upon making the appointment AND initially during my visit I stated that he was current on shots and had loose stools with a bit of blood that I was concerned with. The vet and I spent approx. :15 going over his records and confirming his shots then moved to an exam room where a fecal test was performed which revealed coccidiosis. The vet re-entered the room with a syringe and gave the puppy a shot. At this time (and being ignorant) I assumed it was for the diarrhea. He then took the puppy to weigh him explaining that the medicine for coccidiosis was by weight. At this point I asked what the shot was. He said Rabies and in a panic I asked “can you give him that?!” He assured me it was fine.
    This was approximately 4 pm on Wednesday. On Thursday the puppy was a bit lethargic an acting dis-interested and I was technically ignorant on risks. I trusted this vet who was highly recommended among French Bulldog breeders. Friday at 3 am the puppy woke me with frantic barking. I ran to find him in violent seizures and he died in my arms.
    Still in ignorance I took the puppy to the vet for an autopsy. I desperately wanted an answer to what had happened! They autopsy states, “The external exam showed severe cyanosis of mucus membranes and ventral abdomen. Thoracic area showed atelectasis and hemorrhage in lungs. Mucous membrane lining of trachea is hemorrhagic and bruised just posterior of the larynx and full of froth due to labored respiration. Cause of death: respiratory distress due to seizure”. I had no idea what all that meant and asked him to explain. His explanation was that something caused the puppy to have seizures that caused respiratory distress and cardiac arrest.
    At this point, I started looking in to complications with rabies vaccines and found your site.
    I believe that having two Rabies vaccines within 5 days killed my puppy and in confronting this vet he vehemently denies it had anything to do with it.
    I am desperately hoping for a professional and knowledgeable statement regarding this issue and information providing evidence.
    I thank you in advance for your time

  4. Jan Says:

    Kathy, seizures are well-known adverse reaction to the rabies vaccine. Two given so close together would make this more likely. Your vet is likely denying this because he doesn’t want to be culpable.

    Please read http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2010/12/02/what-to-do-when-your-dog-has-a-vaccine-reaction/ If I were you, I’d file a complaint with your state veterinary board. Find it at Report Reactions at http://www.truth4pets.org. Make sure you report the reaction to the drug maker and demand that they reimburse you for medical expenses and the cost of your puppy. Make them at least pay. Also file a complaint with your small claims court.

    Contact your local media and make a fuss. Go to http://www.truth4dogs.com and take a look at all the rabies articles, particularly ones by Dr. Jean Dodds. You might also want to read http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2011/12/17/why-vets-dont-recognize-vaccine-reactions/ Don’t just be sad. Get mad. This shouldn’t have happened.

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