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Main > Rabies Vaccinations for puppies What age is best? (48 replies)

by gsdgermany2 on 29 March 2008 - 12:03

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We vaccinate our puppies for rabies at 6 months. At what age do you vaccinate your puppies for rabies? Can the Rabies Vaccinations be done safely at less than 6 months? Are there any types or brands of Rabies Vaccinations that are safer for younger puppies? What age do you think is best for the health of the puppy?

by missykl on 29 March 2008 - 12:03

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our vet does our pups at 3 months. every pup we have had has been done at 3 months. they all are great no problems with the shot. hope this helps.

by mirasmom on 29 March 2008 - 12:03

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All my pups have their vacination for rabies anytime after 16 weeks old,

and I've never had any bad side affects...

by Rezkat5 on 29 March 2008 - 12:03

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We too routinely give rabies at 12 and 16 weeks.  Sometimes they are a little older as we won't overload them with multiple vaccines, especially the tiny puppies.   They all seem to do fine, though I'm a bit more comfortable waiting on my own dogs until they are just a wee bit older.  But, 6 months is fine too, wouldn't wait much past that though.  We do have a considerable amount of rabies in NJ, so there is a risk.

by Theresa on 29 March 2008 - 12:03

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My vet also does at 6 months. I am sure not to schedule any other vaccine within two weeks of the rabies so the immune system is not overloaded. I only vaccinate for rabies and distemper/parvo. The latter only when they are pups. No way on the Lymes. My vet also reccomends giving Benedryl one hour before a vaccine to help with any allergic reaction. I give one 25 mg tablet to my 35 pound dog and I give two tablets to my 75 pound shepherd.

by Bob-O on 29 March 2008 - 12:03

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I do this at six (6) months of age-no sooner. But, I understand that some might do it at twelve (12) weeks of age if rabies is prevalent in their geographic area or if certain state and/or local statues govern the issue. I am concerned about the effects of vaccinosis, i.e., too much, too soon.

In the current state of my residence I do not know if there is a required maximum/minimum age for the first rabies vaccination, but it is required annually.



by Rezkat5 on 29 March 2008 - 13:03

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Stinks that it's required annually for you Bob-O, as it's all the same vaccine.  In NJ, luckily it is a 3 year vaccine and more and more clinics are going to a 3 year Distemper/Parvo.  I titer my guys annually, kind of my own little study.  I vaccinate for Lyme, again it's a location issue.  Lots of Lyme Disease in my area.  And have seen one too many dogs die from Kidney failure from Lyme Disease.  Most of the dogs that have died were not vaccinated and it is rare that we see a dog test positive that was vaccinated.  We do not see any problems with the vaccine.  I know that the "original" vaccine for dogs, there were problems.  This "newer," vaccine there are not.  It's just too much of a risk/benefit factor for me.  NJ is a Lyme hot bed, literally. 

by mirasmom on 29 March 2008 - 13:03

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You're right about that Bob-O,

I live in Ma. & a few years back a family had their little black lab pup playing in their backyard
and it got bit by a skunk that had rabies, so because the pup had not yet been vacinated against
rabies, he had to get put down, it was really sad, but someone offered them another pup, so it
did have a better ending.

They said that had that particular pup been vacinated, he would had only needed a booster shot after
being bitten by the skunk, but with no shot given to begin with, the booster shot would not work.

I tell people not to let their pups near any wildlife till they get that all important Rabies shot.

by Rezkat5 on 29 March 2008 - 13:03

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There was a case in Southern NJ of a 5 month old lab puppy that died from rabies.  What a mess that is!


by Bob-O on 29 March 2008 - 13:03

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Rezkat, I now live in Tennessee and the three-year vaccinations for Distemper/Parvovirus are available-one just has to ask. Of course they cost more per occurrence than the one-year vaccination, but I think that is a marketing/sales measure to make up for lost revenue.

I can easily be wrong as I am not a pharmaceutical biologist, but it has been my understanding for many years that the normal rabies vaccine that we have used for so long will protect a dog for three (3) years. In several states intelligence has prevailed and the three-year frequency is allowed. Why it remains to be required here as an annual vaccination is beyond me; other than perhaps the state veterinary association has a strong lobby?

But we know that many dog owners do not give their pets the suggested vaccinations, so perhaps requiring an annual vaccination for rabies works even if the owner complies but 30% of the time? Legally, it is not an issue for most dog owners unless the dog bites another animal or a person, or is bitten by an animal deemed to be infected. But, that is a "rural" idea and probably does not apply to dog owners who live in certain cities.

I agree that puppies should not be allowed to be around wild animals until they receive this important vaccination, and I am aware that an infected wild animal can invade a dog's area and expose the dog. The only wild animals that ever posed a problem for me were the squirrels that would fall into the kennel as they lept from tree to tree. My concern with the squirrels was not about rabies, but worms and other parasites they may carry.





by Rezkat5 on 29 March 2008 - 13:03

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I think that Florida requires Rabies annually as well.  Some states are two.  LOL, charge more for the three year Distemper/Parvo vaccine, that too is the same darn thing.  We have not yet changed to a three year vaccine, but don't care if people want to do so.  Basically it's procrastination, it's a lot of work to change things over apparently. 

The case in southern NJ was handled poorly by the family and animal control.  The story is a little conflicting.  Dog got into a fight with the raccoon and was not vaccinated.  Not quite sure what conspired in between, but the dog ended up getting sick and it wasn't figured out that the dog had rabies until the dog was near comatose.  I think that the raccoon fight was not mentioned way into the dog already being sick.  So,  all these people that handled this dog prior to it being treated, etc.  Have to undergo post exposure treatment, which is quite extensive and expensive.  If the dog had a rabies vaccine in the first place, all it would have needed would have been a booster.  And if the family had realized, they would have avoided a lot themselves.  This dog had the raccoon version, not the dog version.  There was also a baby goat at a petting zoo type thing with rabies too.  Oy! 

by Kerschberger on 29 March 2008 - 14:03

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Re: *We vaccinate our puppies for rabies at 6 months. At what age do you vaccinate your puppies for rabies? Can the Rabies Vaccinations be done safely at less than 6 months? Are there any types or brands of Rabies Vaccinations that are safer for younger puppies? What age do you think is best for the health of the puppy?*

On my health resources link I keep adding sites where research has been done on this as well.   The less you vaccinate, the healthier your dogs.  When I was FORCED to vaccinate a 14 week old pup the other day as I shipped him, I told the vet to give him HALF the vaccine and watched while it was going in!!!  Why do we use the same amount of vaccine for a GREAT DANE adult as we do for a 12 week old pup?   Have you ever taken their temps after a rabies vaccination?  

someone said here, we have never had a bad reaction.  Yes, you have not, because your pup can't speak up and generally their attitude is ok even with a vaccine reaking havoc through their little bodies. 

The breeder of is the one we should take a look at. 

Ck out dr Loop DVM and look for the NOSODES link.

Are we required to keep RE-vaccinating our kids against small poks?  I rest my case...



by Two Moons on 29 March 2008 - 14:03

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After importing my pup from Germany I was contacted by the state and told when to get my pup vacinated (12 weeks) and told to send copies of records to the state health department.  

by Blitzen on 29 March 2008 - 14:03

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I'd never vaccinate any pup for rabies before 6 months of age.  If I lived in an area where is was prevalent, I'd do all I could to prevent an unvaccinated puppy from coming into contact with a rabid animal. Here in PA we see very few cases of rabies in dogs.  I think our dog law says rabies at 4 months, but they will have to catch me and fine me to make me comply. Last time I checked the state statistics, there were somewhere around 3 diagnosed cases of rabies in dogs in the past 10 years. The last dog of mine that was vaccinated annually for rabies died at 7 1/2 years from leukemia and suffered most of his life from autoimmune diseases like allergies and chronic bacterial infections. Even the surgeon and the allergist who saw him felt he was suffering from vaccinosis due to too many rabies shots. As someone else here said, never give more than one vaccination on the same day, wait at least 30 days in between vaccinations.

The 3 year vacs and the annual vacs are the same exact compound and if a vet is charging more for one than the other, you are being scammed and need a new vet. There is absolutely no valid reason to charge more; it is their way to make up for the loss of income from the annual vacs.  You can go to Tractor Supply and buy your own distemper combo for $5.00 including the syringe.  Your dogs belong to you and you can vaccinate them for distemper if you want. No nanny laws to prevent that just yet. A distemper and a rabies costs your vet under $1.00 each including the syringe. You do the math. I vaccinate Blitz myself every 3 years with the distemper/parvo combo since it is all I can buy. I'd just as soon not use parvo since that is not fatal in a healthy adult dog. He gets a rabies from the vet every 3 years and I make sure no 2 vaccinations are given any closer than 60 days. He will be 7 1/2 when he gets his next rabies and distemper and I will not vaccinate him ever again for either. 

I never vaccinate against kennel cough as it is a self limiting and self curing  non-fatal nuisance disease in healthy dogs.  I never vaccinate against lyme either since I am not convinced it is effective and know vaccinated dogs that have still contracted lyme anyway and the vaccination caused false readings on the titer done to diagnose. I have Blitz tested for lyme every 3 years when he goes for his rabies. So far, he's been negative and since he's never had a lyme vac, I have confidence in the result of the titer.

Some researchers are concluding that allergies and cancers are on the rise in dogs and that over vaccinating might be part of the reason.

by Trailrider on 29 March 2008 - 15:03

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Personally I would put it off as long as you  can. I "just" had my youngest vaccinated for rabies a 15 months of age. I hate any vaccines but was happy to see she seemed fine the next day. Then two days later she could not hold anything down. I Googled Rabies Vaccine reactions + dog. Scared the crap out of me! Luckily she seems fine. But it said sometimes problems will not show up until later. I also only give distemper/parvo combo but I do not do it annually. Like posters above said, it makes no sense why a young or small dog gets the same shot as a huge Mastiff and why is it our kids got a series of shots and thats that. I hated them too, you have to sign a release form saying you understand this shot can do all these awful things to your kid but you won't hold anyone to blame. Of course w/o them they can't go to school etc.

by hodie on 29 March 2008 - 15:03

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A fundamental lack of understanding about vaccinations and how they work with the immune system abounds here and on the internet which sadly has become a tool for the ignorant to remain ignorant. Anyone who does not understand that vaccines that are too warm (sitting too long at room temperature is too warm), too old, or not administered in the full dose would be better off to simply not do anything. Why? Because you are compromising the efficacy of the vaccine. It would be helpful to understand how the immune system functions and to understand that indeed, some immunity comes from specific challenges, including vaccinations to induce a immune response in the hope of preparing the body to fight a specific infection.

Further, though only a few studies have been done to date, mostly funded by people who have no understanding of immunology or virology or bacteriology and whose real purpose is to support their ignorant view that vaccines are harmful or only a money-making scheme for pharmaceutical companies, doctors and vets, no real scientific studies have shown any harmful effects from vaccinations, in general. In dogs, as in humans, there can be rare adverse reactions. These reactions are usually related to the individual dog and how its immune system does not process challenges normally. There is a study going on now to determine the efficacy of repeated rabies vaccinations. It will likely be many years before any real results are known. Then, if any result of any study is to be considered valid, it must be verifiable, meaning repeated and show the same or very similar results. Rabies had been eliminated from some countries, but not the U.S. China is seeing thousands of human deaths a year from rabies infections caused by dog bites from unvaccinated dogs. Other countries routinely see many hundreds of human deaths. Where rabies has been controlled, it is in large measure because of vaccination. 

In case it passed one by, no one in this country is routinely vaccinated against smallpox now. Why? Because through vaccinations, smallpox, a scourge on human kind has essentially been eliminated. The last old variety of smallpox vaccination has even been destroyed, as have the last known samples of the virus (whether some secret biotech lab somewhere in the world still has the virus is a possibility). In case a mistake was made and smallpox still reappears, most first world nations now have a sufficient supply of vaccine on hand to vaccinate those at risk. Studies have demonstrated that even in older people who were vaccinated as children that they may NOT have sufficient immunity and probably would need the vaccine or risk death from an infection. The only people routinely given the vaccine now are people at very high risk and those are few and far between. 

It would be helpful to read a history of infectious disease on this planet. In this way one might gain a more realistic understanding of how vaccines were created and why and how they have helped prevent countless millions of deaths from terrible diseases. Learn how they stimulate the immune system. Look at why titers can provide incomplete or false information. Look at the real science, not the internet hype seen above in one posters case who knows nothing of science or immunology. Then make educated decisions about vaccinations, not based on someone's ignorant comments posted on an internet site. There are times when vaccines are inappropriate for sure. But one should understand when and why. 

by GunnarGSD on 29 March 2008 - 15:03

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It's my understanding that a one year vaccine and the three vaccine are the same dose, just different packaging.  Couple that wiht the knowledge that the smallest Chihuahua gets the same dose as the largest mastiff and it can be seen why there are so many sick dogs out there.

The Rabies Challenge Fund ( is a study that is attempting to show that the standard rabies dose is actually good for five years and then they want to prove it is good for seven years.

Here's more information on vaccinations in general from Ron Schultz, PhD; University of Wisconsin - Madison, presented at the AKC Canine Health Foundation 2007 National Parent Club Canine Health Conference:

Finally, to help answer the initial question, Dr. Jean Dodds' vaccination protocol can be found here:


by Blitzen on 29 March 2008 - 15:03

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I would not suggest that rabies, distemper vacs, etc are not necessary.  The decline in rabies in the US is due largely to pet owners vaccinating their animals. Some states are using rabies control progams with wildlife. Here in Pa I believe the current program involves baiting racoon food with oral rabies vaccine. The incidence still remains high in cats since many are feral and homeless. However, I would argue than vacs are not necessary every year and that states should pass legislation to accept rabies titers rather than making blanket laws that - every dog must be vaccinated for rabies annually.  Even every 3 years may be excessive for most healthy dogs and titers would put an end to vets touting annual vaccines as necessary for the caring pet owner. There are rabies clinics, why not rabies titers clinics where owners could get real time information on their dogs stati without paying a vet an arm and a leg. Most vets around here will do a titer, but they make it so prohibitively expensive that most owners just cave and agree to the vaccinations. First do no harm?  I believe Jean Dodd is currently researching what long term ill effects, if any, result from rabies vaccinations and donations are being accepted to help fund her studies. Most here probably recognize her name, so I won't list her credentials; if anyone wishes to check her out, just google her name.

The bottom line for me is - I will not vaccinate my dogs annual against any disease without first seeing documented proof from someone like Jean Dodd that they are needed that often.   The word of a vet who now suddenly has the three-year vaccine but it's going to cost me more is not a valid source of information for this dog owner.  Having worked in veterinary medicine for a long time and still having plenty of contacts in that area, most vets do not give a fig about your animal. It's all about money, no different than most other occupations in the US today. If you doubt this is true and that most do it for the love of the animals, then ask  yourself why is the farm industry in crisis due to lack of doctors to vet farm animals?  Guess where the money is in the vet world. It sure ain't in vaccinating pigs and cattle.

by Blitzen on 29 March 2008 - 16:03

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Thanks, Dave,those are the links to Dodd's studies I was referring to. You are right, it's the same exact vaccine - the three year is no different than the one year. The pharmaceutical companies are starting to comply with Dodd's recommended protocol and it has been accepted by most vet schools as far as I know. The holdbacks are the vets already in private practice. Mine too still says every year, I just ignore the reminder cards and give my own every 3. One of the farm vets I worked for never gave toy breeds the full cc of distemper combination vaccine, He broke to down in .25 cc per puppy. a full cc for a 2 lbs 8 week old seemed to him to be excessive.

by Rezkat5 on 29 March 2008 - 16:03

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Hodie I agree on the vaccine ethicasy (sp?) when they get warm or are not kept properly.  An already mixed DHPP must be used within a 1/2 hour otherwise must be discarded. 


It does drive me crazy that our protocols are still every year on Distemper/Parvo.   We have a few that titer and a few that will only vacc every 2 or 3 years.  The younger veterinarians that I work with are more prone to not recommend vaccination vs. the older vets. 

I agree that we don't see Distemper/parvo/rabies in my area because the majority of the dogs/puppies are vaccinated.  In other states where a good majority of the dogs are not vaccinated the cases seen of parvo/distemper in puppies is much higher.  The same goes for Heartworm, the reason we don't see heartworm, but once a year is because a good majority of the dogs are on heartworm prevention.  And the dogs that do test positive are rescue dogs.  It's a catch 22, IMO, you don't want to do too much, plus you don't want to do too little either. 

I'm no vaccine expert, but I do go with what I'm comfortable with.  Whether or not the titers are informational enough, I don't know.   I should share some of the titer info that I've gotten over the past few years.   Interestingly enough, my older bitch's parvo titer increased this past time.  I just did the other two, so waiting to see what their's are doing.

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