The rabies vaccine is one of the core vaccines for dogs. This means that veterinarians recommend it and will administer it to all dogs, regardless of lifestyle or breed. Although the rabies vaccine is quite routine, many dog owners understandably have a few questions about the shot that they'd like answered before the shot is administered. Hopefully, you will find the answers to those questions below.

1. Why do dogs who barely go outside need the rabies shot?

Rabies is spread via the saliva and blood of infected mammals, so if your dog barely goes outside, it may seem unlikely that they would come into contact with an animal that has rabies. However, a shot is still required for two reasons. For one, bats can carry rabies. Bats have been known to shot up in homes, and they do bite. If a rabid bat were to bite your dog—which can happen without you even knowing it—your dog would become infected.

Rabies is deadly and can be passed on to humans. If a human or dog get rabies, they will die. So even though the risk of an indoor dog becoming infected is low, it's still a risk you want to minimize and address with a rabies vaccine.

2. How often will your dog need another rabies shot?

There are one and three-year versions of the rabies shot. Typically, your dog will be given a one-year shot the first time they are vaccinated. They'll need another shot one year later, and that one will be good for three years. They will then need another rabies vaccine every three years, for the rest of their lives. 

3. Are there any risks involved with the rabies vaccine?

The rabies shot is a very common, very established vaccine with a long track record of safety. Most dogs have absolutely no reaction to the vaccine whatsoever. A few have mild side effects, such as muscle soreness and fatigue, for a day or two afterward. Serious side effects, like coma and nerve damage, occur very, very occasionally, and even when they do occur, it is tough to know whether they are truly able to be traced back to the vaccine. The rewards far outweigh the risks with this shot in almost all cases.

Hopefully, your biggest questions about the rabies vaccine for dogs have been answered! Reach out to local vet services with any other questions.