The rabies vaccine is required by law in most states. It's administered to puppies, and booster vaccinations will follow once a year or once every 3 years, depending on the particular vaccine type. While rabies vaccines are considered safe and necessary health measures, some rare side effects have occurred. If you notice unusual behavior or discomfort in your dog following a rabies vaccine, contact your veterinarian.
Risk of Seizures
Puppies who receive the rabies vaccine when they are 4 months of age or younger can have seizures as a result. These seizures are largely blamed on the virus itself in the vaccine, even if it is a "killed" or inactive virus meant to build immunity in your dog. In rare cases, seizures cannot be controlled with conventional medications such as phenobarbitol or with holistic anti-seizure treatments. Consider a consultation with a traditional or homeopathic veterinarian if your dog has a history of seizures following a rabies vaccination.
Some dogs can exhibit aggressive behavior after a rabies shot -- immediately following the shot, or up to a month afterward. Your dog may show unusual aggression toward other dogs or strangers, or when food is presented to him. If your dog begins to show obsessive behavior or agitation, or overreacts to noises he's previously heard, he may be a victim of rabies miasm. Symptoms may appear slowly but will become more severe over time and can be exacerbated by booster vaccines.
Itching and Scratching
Irritated skin is common at the vaccination site after a rabies shot. The vaccine contains preservatives such as thimerosal and formaldehyde, which the dog's body will reject in the form of itchy skin. Your dog may also exhibit a reaction by excessively licking his paws or muzzle and will lick the air on occasion. You may choose to place a warm compress over the injection site to minimize discomfort -- but avoid applying any topical creams or medications unless directed by your veterinarian.
Severe Allergic Reactions
There are several additives in certain vaccines that can cause a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis. The most common cause of an allergic reaction is due to adjuvants, or compounds that increase potency of the vaccine. Ask your veterinarian if your dog can receive a vaccine that does not contain adjuvants in order to minimize reaction risk. You can also request that your dog receive an antihistamine injection prior to the rabies vaccine to lessen the severity of a reaction.
Kimberly DeCosta is an accomplished equestrian and entrepreneur. She has written for numerous equestrian publications and authored marketing packages for large companies and sports teams.