Rabies: First vaccine given at 16 weeks or older; separate by 4 weeks from final Distemper/Parvo vaccine series. Give additional boosters at 16 months, 4 years and sometimes 7 years. Note: I suggest you weigh the risk factor in your environment and choose only one of these vaccines (Rabies vs. Distemper/Parvo) to give at 16 weeks old. If Rabies is a problem in your area, give the Rabies vaccine at 16 weeks. If Rabies is not a risk in your area, give the Distemper/Parvo vaccine at 16 weeks. At 20 weeks give the other vaccine.

Most states regulate Rabies requirements. In Colorado we have a legal Exemption from Rabies Vaccination Form [C.R.S.12-64-103(15.5)]. The bill was passed to protect unhealthy animals (geriatric, cancer patients, organ failure, autoimmune disease) or those already having 4 vaccines in their lifetime from receiving more vaccines. This waiver allows people to license their pet and it is good for three years with a Veterinary exam. It does require quarantine guidelines if your animal bites someone, or if your animal was bitten by a wild or unvaccinated animal.

In the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) Jan. 15, 2015 it was reported that if a dog was behind on its Rabies vaccines, but is given a Rabies booster within three days of an unknown animal bite, “their antibody response was not inferior to dogs with current vaccine status” (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2015;246:205-211). With these guidelines, I recommend immediately vaccinating pets who are unprotected if they receive a bite from an unknown animal. This ensures full Rabies titer within 3 days and helps decrease need for quarantine associated with the incident. I personally was bitten by a rescue ferret with an unknown vaccine status and my titer was 94% effective nine years after my Rabies vaccines were administered!