The benefits of giving a dog a rabies vaccine at home are fairly clear. However, the benefits of not giving a dog a rabies vaccine at home are not so clear to many people. Of course, saving money is one of the number one reasons that many people opt to give their dogs rabies vaccinations at home. Many people also love the convenience of not having to load their dogs up and drive them to the veterinarian’s office, which can be a very difficult task for some pet owners. However, giving a vaccine at home can also carry several risk that many pet owners are not aware of.

Healthy, Happy Dog

A major problem of rabies vaccinations given at home is the lack of a valid certification. When a licenced veterinarian’s clinic gives animals vaccinations, they record the information in their official records. This is especially important when it comes to the vaccine for rabies for a couple of different reasons:

If a dog happens to bite someone or act in an undesirable manor, a city or county official is usually called out to the scene. More than likely, the first item of business will be whether or not the animal in question has its shots. Then they will ask where the certificate is on file. If the rabies shot was given by a professional, the information then can be obtained in their records. However, if the dog in question has only been given a vaccine from another source, there is no documentation that this ever took place. Even if you keep a receipt or have witness, it will not hold up legally and the owner stands a chance of losing their pet.

The dog will be captured and placed in a kennel or cage for observation. This can be for quite sometime, usually 10 days. If during this time the dog experiences any of the symptoms of rabies, then further testing will take place to determine if the dog is infected with the virus. Doesn’t sound so bad? Well the only accurate method of testing for rabies is by examining the brain because no method of blood testing is available. This can only be done by putting the dog down and actually cutting in and examining the brain. It sounds harsh but there are no cures for rabies once it develops and this will rule out if the person bitten will need to undergo a series of shots or not.

Dogs are attacked all the time by wild animals. A pet that has been bitten by another animal can be subjected to be legally euthanized immediately if the rabies vaccine is not current or certified. If the other animal is captured, it will be subjected to immediate rabies testing. If a pet owner does win again having the pet euthanized, the pet will have to be kept in a cage and observed for six months due to the long incubation period of rabies in dogs, 3 to 6 weeks.

Another problem with giving the rabies vaccination at home is that all state and countries have different laws pertaining to this vaccine. It is against the law in many places to administer the shot from any other means that a certified animal clinic. It is also against the law in some places to have an animal that doesn’t have current shots. It is very important to kept up to date on the laws in the pet owner’s place of residence to avoid any legal prosecution or fines and the possibility of losing the ownership of the dog.

However, one problem that many people will not foresee one that comes when traveling with pets. When traveling within the states or abroad to other areas, that particular area’s laws on rabies vaccines will be enforced, especially with air travel. A rabies vaccine will have to be legally certified and given by a veterinarian clinic to be even allowed to travel or enter the country. All vaccine documents are needed when traveling with pets and all documents have to be certified.

That last reason that will be discussed here for not giving a rabies vaccine to pets at home; even though the shot is easily obtained and easy enough to give to an animal, it still doesn’t make the administer a professional. Veterinarians and their assistants are trained to give the dog the right amount of vaccine for the makeup of the particular dog, such as weight. These people are also trained to know the dangers that are associated with the shot and the warning signs of when and when not to give the shot. They will make a record and send you reminders when it’s time to update vaccinations for pets. This will ensure that the pets are protected and kept up to date.

There are health risk that are associated with the rabies vaccine. Just like with all medication, the rabies vaccination can have very dangerous side effects, although rare. A professional should know how to respond to these life threatening side effects and should be able to observe an animal for a short while after the shot is given. If nothing else, hang around the vet’s office for awhile afterwards as a just-in-case precaution. If the dog begins experiencing side effects at home, if the shot was given by the vet, they should be more than happy to answer any questions at home and even come in on a 24/7 period if an emergency should happen.

Side effects of the rabies vaccine that can occur immediately or within the first few days after the shot:

  • Vomiting
  • Facial swelling
  • Fever or lethargy
  • Circulatory shock
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

Although rare, some other serious side effects can occur up to months after the shot is given. These include:

  • Cancer at the injection site
  • Seizures
  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune diseases, including organ disease, allergies and skin problems
  • Chronic digestive problems
  • Muscle weakness, especially lack of hind end coordination
  • Chronic digestive disorders
  • Skin conditions
  • Behavior problems

If a pet experiences any of the side effects, a vet should be contacted immediately.

Given all of the bad reasons to give a dog a rabies vaccination at home, it makes sense to pay the extra few dollars and have a professional do it. If the dog is scared to ride in a car or hard to handle, most vets will make house calls to give dogs rabies vaccine.