extra dosage of rabbies vaccination given
shegolfer2000 posted:
my dog a 14lb female shih tzu, received a 1 yr rabbies vaccination today, I had paid for a 3 yr, when the vet realized what they had done he went ahead an gave my dog the 3 yr vacccination on top of the 1 yr, is that ok? Will there be any side effects from the extra dosage?
srstephanie responded:
Hi shegolfer2000,

I'm not a vet, but my "hobby" is listening to recordings of talks given at vet CE conferences by some of the top veterinary researchers ... including many talks by the top experts who wrote the Canine Vaccination Guidelines for vets (just updated last year). So, I can share what I think I've learned from them.

Bottom line is that I think it should be okay, but watch your dog carefully today. Most Rabies reactions are more of an allergic type reaction and would be more likely to occur quickly after vaccination. The major risk factor is usually the giving of multiple vaccinations to a small dog ... but that is usually more than two vaccinations. Did your dog also receive other vaccines at that vet appointment (e.g. Distemper, Adenovirus 2, Parvo, Lepto, Lyme, etc)? The risk factor increases with the number of vaccines given, but even so, the percentage of dogs with negative reactions is still small. You posted 15 hours ago, so if you haven't seen any significant reaction, you are probably fine.

All Rabies vaccines for dogs are Killed Virus (KV) vaccines, which means they are made by taking the Rabies virus (or part of it) and using a chemical to "kill" it. So, there is no danger from an additional amount of "dead" virus with the second vaccination. But the immune system won't respond well to a dead virus, so all KV vaccines need an added chemical, called an "adjuvant" (usually something like aluminum) that causes an inflammation at the vaccination site. The purpose of the adjuvant is to wake up and stimulate the immune system to respond to a dead vaccine virus. In addition to the adjuvant, companies may include other things in vaccines like antibiotics, etc. It is all a "secret formula" by the manufacturer.

So, besides the double dose of the dead (killed) Rabies virus, your dog got a double dose of the other stuff in the vaccine. Many feel that it is the "other stuff" that is responsible for many of the post-vaccination reactions. But they are usually more of an immediate, allergic reaction, though some may take 1-3 months to appear ... e.g. skin discoloration or bleeding sores on the tips of the ears ... see the info on Dr Richard Ford's website (one of the co-authors of the Vaccination Guidelines):
http://www.dvmvac.com/HotTopic.shtml#skin As he said, that seems to be, anectdotally, more common with the old Fort Dodge (now Boehringer Ingelheim) vaccines.

The really frustrating part is that with Rabies, the 3-yr and 1-yr vaccines are the SAME product, just with a different label (and a couple companies add more adjuvant to the 3-yr product). So, your dog, even with the 1-yr vaccine, was protected for at least 3 yrs. But the legal system won't recognize a 1-yr vaccine as protective for 3 yrs ... so after the first vaccination, immunologically your dog was protected but the law won't accept it for more than one year.

I think it would have been better if your vet had just refunded part of your money and asked you to come back in a year and then give the 3-yr vaccine (dogs need annual wellness checks anyway). But if you haven't seen any significant reaction by now, all should be okay. Cats are more sensitive to the inflammatory reactions of adjuvanted vaccines, but dogs generally handle it pretty well. The dead Rabies in the vaccine shouldn't be a problem. I'm assuming that this was a booster and not your dog's first/initial Rabies vaccination. So, the immune system will react quickly to boost immunity. Just keep an eye out for a couple months for skin/ear tip changes, but I think both are quite rare and not lethal. Based on what I think I've learned from the experts, I think that it is unlikely there will be any problems.

Hope that helps.

Stephanie in Montreal
shegolfer2000 responded:
Stephanie, Thank you so very much for your response. I really appreciate you taking time to respond. It does help. My dog Tootzee seems to be ok so far.