Symptoms After Dog Rabies Vaccinations

Side effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs.
Side effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs. (Image: Dog image by Westy;] from

The rabies vaccine is meant to prevent your dog from rabies infection. Rabies is a virus that’s spread when an infected animal bites another animal or human. The virus attacks the nervous system, and the outcome is most always fatal if untreated. Rabies vaccines are required by law for dogs to prevent them from becoming infected. Side effects are possible, although infrequent. The following symptoms may indicate your dog is experiencing a bad reaction to the rabies vaccine.


Within minutes of the shot being administered, symptoms associated with a fatal condition known as anaphylaxis may happen. Shock, respiratory failure and cardiac failure are all potential symptoms. The symptoms can only be reversed when epinephrine is administered quickly by a veterinarian.

Allergic Reaction

When a dog is allergic to the rabies vaccine, an allergic reaction occurs. His skin may itch. He may have digestive problems causing vomiting and loose bowels. He may seem weak and unresponsive with paralysis possible in one or more of his legs. Symptoms associated with an allergic reaction generally appear within minutes following the shot.

The American Animal Hospital Association reports that allergic reactions from rabies vaccinations are uncommon, but when they happen can be fatal if immediate treatment isn’t sought.

Joint Inflammation

The dog’s joints can become swollen after the rabies vaccine has been administered, and polyarthritis can set in. Joint inflammation frequently begins within hours of the vaccination.

Behavioral Abnormalities

The dog may also display behavioral issues, such as aggression, nervousness and obsessive behaviors. These symptoms may be noticeable within up to 24 hours of the shot.

Long-Term Side Effects

More serious reactions can lead to neurological problems with symptoms not showing up for weeks after the vaccination. Some of the common symptoms include: loss of consciousness, seizures, and circulatory shock. Organs can shut down. The vaccine can trigger abnormal cells to divide and spread resulting in cancer.

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