Dog Care, Pet Care, Pet Health

Side Effects of Rabies Vaccine in Dogs | Everything you must know

Every responsible pet owner must make sure they vaccinate their dog against diseases such as rabies. It might not be easy to...

Written by mypettutor · 9 min read >
side effects of rabies vaccine in dogs

Every responsible pet owner must make sure they vaccinate their dog against diseases such as rabies. It might not be easy to see your furry friend deal with the side effects of the rabies vaccine observed in dogs, but what needs to be done must be done.

The rabies vaccine is one of the few (if not the only) vaccines mandated by law in most states in the US and all over the world. This shows how important it is for your dog and society at large that your dog is vaccinated. 

We can minimize the negative side effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs, unlike the adverse effects of the disease without vaccination. Consider the risks you take with rabies vaccines and their side effects as a necessary evil for the greater good.

What are these side effects of rabies vaccines in dogs and what can you do when your pet suffers from them? And why do you even have to subject them to all that? This article will take you through everything you need to know about all that.

Why Rabies Vaccination?

You might want to ask why? Why vaccination? Why do I have to take my dog to be vaccinated if he could end up sick?

A disease like rabies could be a major health problem for dogs and even cause death in pups. Its causative agent is the lyssavirus, which turns lethal once the symptoms begin to appear. The rising issues can be so bad that the side effects of rabies vaccines in dogs seem to pale in comparison.

Rabies is spread through rabid animals’ bites through saliva or mucous membranes, and it mostly affects the neurological system.

Vaccines can help your dog avoid acquiring rabies in the first place, which is always preferable to treating them once symptoms appear, both because the disease is harmful to your pet’s health and because treatment can be costly.

Besides, it’s essential to have your dog’s vaccines on time, early in life, so they can get off to a good start and have a better chance of long-term health.

But what else do we have to worry about once these pups are vaccinated? What risks and chances are we taking by giving them these vaccines? The side effects of the rabies vaccine in these dogs can be as subtle as they can be alarming. 

Read also: Dog Skin Cancer: Types, Symptoms, And Treatment

What Are The Side Effects Of Rabies Vaccine In Dogs

Rabies vaccines are nothing to be afraid of. They are necessary to keep your pet in good health and others around it. The only issue that comes is when the dogs’ bodies react to the vaccine after they take it. This could result from certain allergies contributed to by the vaccine or the dog’s immune system trying to fight it. 

The negative side effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs can range from mild to seriously fatal. Most are quite common, while others are rather rare. Whether mild or serious, common or rare, long-term or short-lived, all these symptoms are important to note and be treated immediately to avoid grave consequences and regrets.

The little symptoms are typical and expected, and they should only last one or two days before disappearing. Contact your veterinarian if your dog does not appear to be back to normal after two days.

Though most dog vaccine reactions are moderate and short-lived, in a few rare situations, more serious reactions requiring rapid attention may occur.

All possible side effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs should be treated with caution. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian for urgent or emergency care, or contact the nearest emergency veterinary clinic.

You might also want to read: Why is My Dog Peeing a Lot? What Should I Do?

Causes of Rabies Vaccine Allergies in Dogs

The possible side effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs are mainly because of a stimulated immune system, as vaccines function by boosting the immune system. 

The immune system in your dog’s body does a great job of defending him from numerous things that could make him sick. The immune system achieves this by sending antibodies to target any foreign substance that enters your dog’s system that it believes will cause harm to the body. 

Unfortunately, it will sometimes also target things like vaccines that mean well. This is the root cause of the side effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs.

The immune system of your dog has a hypersensitive response to the rabies vaccine, causing an allergic reaction. Skin rashes, diarrhea, and abrupt renal failure are all symptoms that might occur.

Your dog’s immune system can respond to everything that enters its body that it deems dangerous, but in vaccination, doctors must often go through the allergy to prevent sickness.

It is the same mechanism that leads some dogs to react to pollen and other seasonal allergens. Many things might induce an allergic reaction in your dog.

For 24 to 36 hours after immunization, slight fever, mild lack of appetite, and mild-to-moderate loss of energy are possible side effects. Dogs may also feel pain and slight edema around the injection site.

Common Side Effects of Rabies Vaccine in Dogs

Not all dogs experience side effects from dog vaccines. To some, it’s a simple procedure, while some suffer from some minor issues.

Side effects usually appear within an hour of vaccination and disappear within a day or two. They could range from slight, painless swelling at the injection site to having patches of hair loss at the base of the tail in rare circumstances.

Different dogs may have varying symptoms from their fellows. Some common side effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs include:

  • Lethargy
  • Uneasiness and general body discomfort
  • Swelling at the site of injection 
  • Mild fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Decrease in activity or desire to play
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, and ears

The swelling at the injection site is the only common side effect that could last up to a week. If it gets past that time, it may get serious and form a tumor. Be extremely cautious with this particular effect and report it to your vet at once.

While others will last just a day or two. If symptoms persist afterward, consult your veterinarian for a check-up.

Rare Side Effects of Rabies Vaccine in Dogs

Dogs can have severe and more serious side effects from the rabies vaccine. These might be rare, but that does not make them nonexistent. Basically, this might not mean that something is wrong with the vaccine.

Your dog’s immune system might be creating allergic reactions to it. Anaphylaxirare,s is a very serious allergic reaction that causes the dog’s body to react negatively to the rabies vaccine.

Rare side effects are usually observed immediately or about an hour or two after the vaccination. They require immediate attention.

Some of these include:

  • Hives, in the form of solid lumps all over the dog’s body. They could be itchy.
  • Face, eyes, or muzzle swelling
  • Coughing
  • Swelling or severe pain at the injection location
  • A tumor developing at the injection location (this is more common in cats)
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Respiratory distress
  • Passing out or collapsing

Once your dogs start showing symptoms of these serious side effects of the rabies vaccine, don’t hesitate to take them to the vet immediately.

How To Treat Side Effects of Rabies Vaccine in Dogs

So, how do you treat these side effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs to relieve your pooches of their sorrows? Always notify your veterinarian and have it recorded if your dog has an allergic reaction to any medication or immunization.

The decision your veterinarian will take will depend on the severity of the side effect of the rabies vaccine in the dogs.

The treatment of rabies vaccine allergies in dogs sometimes works like every other reaction and allergy. They could administer relief treatments like Antihistamines and cortisone. This will calm the side effects quickly and treat skin reactions as well as those that are not life-threatening.

Your veterinarian may administer epinephrine to your dog in severe circumstances to provide immediate relief from life-threatening discomfort.

In these cases, your dog will receive intravenous fluids and drugs like dexamethasone or diphenhydramine to aid recovery and restore vital signs.

After the medication, keep an eye on your dog for any recurrence of earlier symptoms. Contact your veterinarian if symptoms reoccur.

Fortunately, most adverse reactions to immunizations can be effectively treated by your veterinarian. Your dog should recover quickly with proper treatment.

It is uncommon. However, in some places, it is permitted if a veterinarian deems that the dog should not receive the vaccine for health reasons until the patient is pronounced healthy enough to receive it again. Your veterinarian may also ask that your dog wait in the clinic for up to 30 minutes following your appointment to check his or her reaction to the immunization.

Depending on the intensity of the response, your pet may improve in 15-30 minutes after receiving treatment.

Duration Of Side Effects of Rabies Vaccine in Dogs

Knowing that your four-legged friend might not take these shots so well, you might want to do it and get it out of the way. Now the question is, how long will it take to get it over with? And how long do the side effects of the rabies vaccine last in dogs?

The state mandates rabies vaccination for dogs to be taken annually. This means that your little friend might have to go through all this every year. 

You might be wondering, what about the side effects? After the rabies vaccination, How long do they last? If you have to do this every year, it is understandable that you are hopeful your lovely pet won’t have to bear the pain of side effects for too long.

However, if the symptoms are mild, the side effects of rabies vaccination in dogs should be gone after some hours. Some may last 1-2 days after the vaccine is given. Allergic reactions may show even before you leave the clinic and medication given to calm the dog. 

More severe cases could take up to a week before they are completely treated. Let your doctor know if your dog experiences these side effects of the rabies vaccine for longer than they should. Immediate attention may be required to avoid bigger problems. 

How Can I Comfort My Dog After Shots?

The value of vaccination in preventing major illnesses in animals cannot be over-emphasized. Fortunately, most pets do not require extra attention after immunization because they exhibit no signs of a reaction and continue to live their lives regularly.

While others, however, may have a minor reaction and could even be whimpering and whining or tucking their tails between their legs. They may lose their appetite and just want to lounge around and rest. Some animals may dislike being handled, and the injection site may be unpleasant or uncomfortable. This is perfectly OK when they take the rabies vaccine.

This might just leave you wondering, how can I comfort my dog after these shots? How do I help my pet feel better after receiving their vaccination?

Here are a few things you could do;

  • Patting or playing with your pet is not recommended because they may prefer to be left alone. When they require attention, they’ll come to you.
  • Create a warm, comfortable area to rest. Unless they have a more preferred spot, then let them be.
  • Ensure they have access to water and their favorite foods
  • The most essential thing to keep in mind is that this type of behavior is completely normal.
  • Check in on your pet now and again to make sure they’re okay, but try not to bother them too much.

If you are concerned, then contact your vet, but you may not need to do that unless these mild symptoms get serious and more painful. Then off to the vet you go!


Can a rabies shot cause side effects?

Yes, your dog will likely have some side effects after taking its rabies shot. But it is also possible that it will not. Some dogs do not show any symptoms of possible side effects of the rabies vaccine and do not need any special attention afterward.

If your dog is experiencing some weakness, slight swelling, or cough, keep him under close observation. This may last for 24- 48 hours. However, keep watch and report to your vet if it worsens.

Will my dog feel sick after a rabies shot?

Your dog will probably feel sick and experience some minor side effects after its rabies shot. Though some dogs do not feel sick at all. 

Symptoms like soreness, loss of appetite, diarrhea, etc are common side effects of rabies vaccination in dogs and will go away after a little while.

What to Do If You Notice Rabies Vaccine Side Effects

If you notice that your dog is experiencing some side effects of the rabies vaccine, give them sensitive, loving care, and keep an eye on them for a few days.

If you suspect your dog is in discomfort, contact your veterinarian for help. To help your dog feel better, they may prescribe pain medication.

Does a rabies shot make a dog tired?

Yes, this is possible. Lethargy is one of the most common side effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs. You can see it as a state of weariness that involves diminished energy, mental capacity, and motivation

A day or two of low energy, a minor temperature, mild pain, and a short loss of appetite are all signs that the vaccine is boosting the immune system.

How long does it take for swelling to go down after a vaccination?

A minor swelling should only last for about a week or two at most. If it exceeds this or gets too painful, take your dog to the vet immediately. Note that there are cases where these swellings turn out to be tumors and should not be taken lightly.

What can I give my dog for Pains after shots?

Some pain-relieving medications can help your dog if he is in pain after taking a rabies vaccination. But before giving your dog any human pain reliever, always visit your veterinarian. It’s risky to rely on the recommendations of other dog owners. Every dog is unique, and yours may be unable to tolerate the components in human pain relievers.


Rabies vaccinations are given to practically every dog at their annual veterinarian visit, and sometimes every three years. These vaccines are designed to protect domestic animals such as cats and dogs from a terrible and incurable disease that affects nature.

There are adverse side effects from the rabies vaccine in dogs, which have to be endured and suppressed to avoid the disease.

Please consult your veterinarian if your dog’s reaction to the immunization appears to be more significant or if he has not recovered within 48 hours.

Vaccination can be quite expensive, but if your dog already has pet insurance coverage, then you are on a safer path.

Check out this article on pet insurance: What Does Pet Insurance Cover? How it works in 2022


  • – What to expect after your pet’s vaccination
  • – Everything You Need to Know About Rabies Vaccines for Dogs
  • – Everything You Need to Know About Rabies Vaccines for Dogs

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