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What Happens If A Dog Doesn’t Get Rabies Shot



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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Rabies is a fatal disease that primarily affects mammals, including dogs and humans. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent this deadly disease.

But what happens if a dog doesn’t get its rabies shot? The consequences can be severe for the dog, its owners, and potentially, the wider community.

This article delves into the importance of rabies shots for dogs, the potential consequences of skipping these crucial vaccinations, and the role of responsible pet ownership in preventing the spread of this deadly disease.

Key Takeaway

  • Rabies shot is a vaccination that helps protect animals, including dogs, cats, and humans, from the viral disease called rabies, which can be fatal if left untreated.
  • If a dog doesn’t get a rabies shot, it is at risk of contracting the deadly rabies virus if exposed to an infected animal, and it can also pose a threat to humans and other animals.
  • While dogs can theoretically live without a rabies shot, it is highly recommended to vaccinate them as rabies is a potentially fatal disease and poses a risk to both the dog and humans.

What Is a Rabies Shot

What Happens If A Dog Doesn't Get Rabies Shot

A rabies shot, or rabies vaccine, is a preventive measure against the rabies virus. Rabies is a deadly disease mainly transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal.

The vaccine works by stimulating the body’s immune system to defend against this virus.

The rabies vaccine is unique in that it’s most often used after exposure to the disease. When a person or an animal is exposed to rabies, they’re given a series of shots to prevent the virus from causing the disease.

This approach is known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

The rabies vaccine can also be given before exposure as a preventive measure, especially for people at high risk of exposure, like veterinarians, animal handlers, and certain travelers. This is known as pre-exposure prophylaxis.

What Happens If A Dog Doesn’t Get Rabies Shot

If a dog doesn’t get a rabies shot, it increases the risk of contracting and transmitting the fatal disease, can lead to severe health complications, potential legal consequences for the owner, and significant emotional and financial impacts.

If a dog doesn’t get a rabies shot, several consequences can occur:

Increased Risk of Rabies

Without rabies vaccination, a dog is at a higher risk of contracting the deadly disease if exposed to an infected animal.

Health Complications

If a dog contracts rabies, it could suffer from severe health complications. Symptoms include fever, seizures, paralysis, change in behavior, and ultimately, death.

Transmission to Humans and Other Animals

Unvaccinated dogs that contract rabies pose a threat to humans and other animals. Rabies is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transmitted from animals to humans. If a human gets bitten by a rabid dog, they could potentially contract the disease.

In many regions, it’s legally required for dogs to be vaccinated against rabies. If a dog isn’t vaccinated and bites someone, the owner could face serious legal consequences. The dog might also need to be quarantined or even euthanized to prevent the potential spread of the virus.

Emotional and Financial Impact on the Owner

The potential loss of a pet due to rabies, along with the possibility of legal repercussions, can cause significant emotional distress and financial burden for the owner.

To summarize, it’s crucial for dogs to receive their rabies shots not only to protect their health but also to safeguard the health of others and comply with legal requirements.

Can a Dog Live Without a Rabies Shot?

Technically, a dog can live without a rabies shot; however, it is risky and not recommended. Rabies shots are designed to protect dogs from the rabies virus, which is a fatal disease.

If a dog doesn’t receive its rabies vaccine and gets exposed to the virus, it could contract the disease. The disease is almost always fatal once clinical signs appear.

Furthermore, in many places, rabies vaccinations for dogs are not just a matter of health, but also a legal requirement.

This is because rabies is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans. Vaccinating dogs against rabies is a crucial part of preventing the disease’s spread to humans.

It’s also important to note that even dogs that live primarily indoors should be vaccinated. They can still be exposed to the virus through bats or other animals that may enter their homes.

While there may be some rare exceptions, such as dogs with specific medical conditions that make vaccination unsafe, the vast majority of dogs should be vaccinated against rabies for their protection and the safety of others.

If a dog is not vaccinated and is suspected to have been exposed to rabies, it may need to be quarantined or even euthanized to prevent the potential spread of the virus.

Can a Fully Vaccinated Dog Carry Rabies?

The rabies vaccine is highly effective in preventing the disease, but like any vaccine, it may not provide 100% protection.

Some studies suggest a small percentage of dogs might not develop sufficient immunity despite being vaccinated. However, these cases are extremely rare.

If a vaccinated dog is exposed to the virus, it generally has enough immunity to fight off the disease. This is why it’s crucial for a dog to receive its rabies shots as scheduled.

Even if a vaccinated dog does contract the virus, it’s unlikely to become seriously ill or transmit the disease to humans or other animals.

It’s important to note that even if a dog is vaccinated, it’s required by law in many areas to be quarantined and observed if it bites a human, to ensure it’s not carrying the virus.

This is mostly a precautionary measure due to the serious health risk rabies poses to humans.

How Long Can a Dog Be Overdue For a Rabies Shot?

A study pointed out that the length of time the subjects were overdue for their shots ranged up to 46.1 months in cats and up to 36.1 months in dogs.

However, this does not mean it’s safe or advisable to delay your pet’s rabies vaccination for such long periods.

If the vaccination given 14 months ago was your dog’s first rabies vaccination, he should be revaccinated immediately. This is because the immunity provided by the first shot might not last as long as subsequent shots.

In some places like Florida, even if your pet is past due for their booster by only one day, they are considered overdue. Once vaccinated, your overdue pet will again be considered protected.

Q: What is a rabies shot for dogs?

A: A rabies shot for dogs is a vaccination that helps protect dogs from the rabies virus.

Q: Is it mandatory for dogs to get a rabies shot?

A: Yes, in many countries and states, it is mandatory for dogs to get a rabies shot. This is to ensure the safety of both the dog and the people around them.

Q: What happens if a dog doesn’t get a rabies shot?

A: If a dog doesn’t get a rabies shot, they are at risk of contracting the rabies virus if they come into contact with an infected animal. Rabies is a fatal disease that affects the nervous system of animals, including humans.

Q: How often does a dog need a rabies shot?

A: The frequency of rabies vaccinations can vary depending on the laws and regulations of the specific country or state. In general, dogs usually need a rabies shot every 1-3 years.

Q: Can a dog get rabies even if they have had a rabies shot?

A: While the rabies vaccination is highly effective, there is still a small chance that a dog can contract rabies even if they have had the vaccine. However, the severity of the disease is usually reduced in vaccinated animals.

Q: What are the symptoms of rabies in dogs?

A: The symptoms of rabies in dogs can vary, but they may include changes in behavior, excessive salivation, aggression, difficulty swallowing, and paralysis. It’s important to seek immediate veterinary attention if you suspect your dog has rabies.

Q: Can humans get rabies from an unvaccinated dog?

A: Yes, humans can contract rabies from an unvaccinated dog if they are bitten or scratched by an infected animal. It is essential to take preventive measures, such as getting a rabies shot for the dog and seeking medical attention if exposed to a potentially infected dog.

Q: Are there any side effects of the rabies shot for dogs?

A: Some dogs may experience mild side effects after receiving a rabies shot, such as swelling or tenderness at the injection site, mild fever, or lethargy. These side effects are usually temporary and resolve on their own.

Q: Can a dog be vaccinated for rabies if they are already infected?

A: No, a dog cannot be vaccinated for rabies if they are already infected. Vaccinations are preventive measures and are not effective once an animal has contracted the disease. If you suspect your dog has rabies, consult a veterinarian immediately.

Q: Can a dog transmit rabies without showing symptoms?

A: Yes, it is possible for a dog to transmit rabies without showing symptoms. This is known as the “silent carrier” state, where the dog is infected with the virus but does not exhibit any signs of illness. Vaccination is crucial in preventing the transmission of the disease.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, neglecting to provide a dog with its rabies shot can lead to severe consequences.

Not only does it put the dog at a heightened risk of contracting this fatal disease, but it also poses a significant threat to other animals and humans who may come into contact with an infected dog.

Additionally, it can lead to legal repercussions due to mandatory vaccination laws in many areas.

As responsible pet owners, it is crucial to ensure that our dogs receive regular vaccinations, including rabies shots.

This not only safeguards the health of our beloved pets but also contributes to the well-being of our families and communities.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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