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Rabies Vaccination: 10 Things You Need to Know: by Jan Rasmussen

Few people give rabies vaccination much thought. Animal Control sends a notice. You vaccinate. It’s legally mandated so it must be safe, right? Besides, what choice do you have? You have the choice to advocate for your dog – or not. You can follow the law blindly or educate yourself about this dangerously reactive vaccine and take precautions when vaccinating. If something goes wrong, you and your dog will pay the price – in every respect. The responsibility is yours. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Understand possible reactions. Short-term reactions include vomiting, facial swelling, fever, lethargy, circulatory shock, loss of consciousness and even death. (If your pet is distressed, contact your vet immediately.) Reactions occurring days or months after vaccination can be difficult to spot:
· Fibrocarcinomas (cancer) at the injection site.
· Seizures and epilepsy
· Autoimmune disease
· Chronic digestive problems
· Allergies
· Skin diseases
· Muscle weakness or atrophy
· Pica (eating inappropriate materials, including feces).
· Behavioral Problems (aggression, separation anxiety,compulsive behaviors and more).

2. Wait three or more weeks after giving other vaccines or medication for parasites.

3. Vaccinate healthy dogs only. Vaccination may exacerbate illness and prevent immunity from developing. Pets with autoimmune disease or cancer are obviously not “healthy,”but neither are pets with diverse problems like stress from moving or surgery, a virus, allergies or skin problems.

4.Vaccinate in the morning and watch for reactions for 24 to 48 hours. Pay special attention to injection-site lumps.

5.If your pet has documented health problems, have your vet apply for a rabies vaccination extension or exemption.Many localities permit them. If your vet won’t apply for it, go elsewhere. If local law forbids it, change the law.

6. Find a vet trained in homeopathy to vaccinate your dog. A “remedy” called Lyssin can lessen the chance of ill effects and homeopathy is an excellent treatment for many reactions. Find vet referral lists at

7. Report all vaccine reactions to your vet and make sure they’re recorded in your pet’s file. Have the vet sign the file. Put a copy in a safe place. Exemptions require documentation.

8. Don’t vaccinate within a week of travel. Pets experiencing reactions can die without immediate medical assistance.

9. Keep copies of vaccination records and titer tests in your cars, and license tags on your dog’s collar or harness. Otherwise, you may be forced to re-vaccinate if your pet bites someone or if you have to board your pet unexpectedly.

10.Support the Rabies Challenge Fund ( This non-profit group of scientists is working to increase the interval between boosters by proving that the vaccine gives immunity for 5 then 7 years. They’re also working to establish a blood “titer standard” to provide a scientific basis to avoid unnecessary boosters. Before the next notice from Animal Control arrives, do your homework. A little time spent learning about the rabies vaccine can mean the difference between your dog’s wellness or serious illness.

Jan Rasmusen is the national award-winning author of Scared
Poopless: The Straight Scoop on Dog Care.  Learn more
about rabies vaccination at

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