Anti-Rabies Vaccine: Does It Really Change Your Dog’s Behavior?

Is it possible for the rabies vaccine to cause aggression in dogs? Some people believe so. Here’s what you need to know about the rabies vaccine and its potential impact on canine behavior. If you’re interested in natural pet health and wellness, you’re in the right place. Click the link to subscribe to Veterinary Secrets.

Understanding the Links Between Rabies Vaccines and Dog Behavior

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So, is the idea that the rabies vaccine can lead to aggression in dogs just an old wives’ tale? A few months after vaccination, some dogs reportedly become aggressive. If you search online for any link between dog aggression and the vaccine, virtually every conventional site, including those run by veterinary specialists, will tell you there’s no proven link. However, during my time in veterinary practice, I had several clients who reported that their dogs’ temperaments changed for the worse after receiving the rabies vaccine—some within two months, others in four. Hearing this repeatedly made me consider the possibility of a connection.

Exploring the Complex Causes of Aggression in Dogs

Aggression in dogs can have multiple underlying causes, including genetics. For instance, my dog Tula was the runt of her litter, timid and shy from the start, which influenced her adult behavior. However, when a typically easygoing dog becomes suddenly aggressive after a vaccination, one has to consider whether there might be a vaccine correlation.

Scientific Insights and Theories

A study in 2017 suggested a link between vaccines and patients diagnosed with neuropsychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, hinting that vaccines might trigger the immune system in a way that affects the brain. The rabies vaccine, being a killed vaccine, includes adjuvants to boost the immune response, which can sometimes lead the body to produce antibodies that attack the brain, altering behavior.

Veterinary expert Dr. Richard Pitcairn discusses the concept of “rabies miasm," which suggests that some vaccinated dogs might exhibit symptoms reminiscent of actual rabies, such as increased aggression or fearfulness. These signs might be subtle, lying beneath the surface like an iceberg, only to flare up unexpectedly.

Adjusting Rabies Vaccination Practices

Given these concerns, how should we approach rabies vaccinations? Many jurisdictions require dogs to be vaccinated for rabies by law, especially if traveling or crossing state lines. In my case, Tula is required to have her rabies vaccine every three years. However, studies suggest that rabies vaccines might confer immunity for up to ten years. I recommend waiting until a dog is at least six months old before administering the rabies vaccine if it is mandated. For those in areas where it is not required, considering a more tailored vaccination schedule may be beneficial.

Holistic Approaches to Post-Vaccine Care

Many integrative veterinarians suggest administering a homeopathic remedy, Thuja 30C, after vaccination to potentially reduce vaccine reactions. The dosage is typically one 13c capsule per 20 lbs of body weight.


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