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Discussion Starter #1
Poor Samantha got her 3 year rabies inoculation booster, Friday, as required by law. Today she is very lethargic, moving very slowly, and though she is eating, not displaying her normal level of excitement over food. I'm sure she will recover, and as long as she is eating, drinking and eliminating ok, will not get too concerned, all of which is functional. Just hate to see her obviously not feeling great.
 

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If Samantha is the small dog in your avatar, she's sadly one of many small dogs that experience vaccine related injury like this because of the "one size fits all" mentality in the veterinary community. (Related: Dr. John Robb lost his Banfield franchise, in part, by halving doses in the effort to not harm his patients. It's a long story but worth the read.)

Dr. Jean Dodd did an independent study that was posted in January of '16 on whether half-sized doses for smaller dogs would be as effective as "standard" sized doses for larger breeds. It appears she was successful in proving that for the 13 dogs in her study.

Sadly, she could only prove this using distemper and parvo vaccinations and not rabies, because of current state rabies laws. There is an organization that's working to change that though: Rabies Challenge Fund

On a more positive note, out there in California you have the option to get a rabies exemption for your pet: "A rabies immunization exemption may be issued by the local health officer upon the written recommendation of a California-licensed veterinarian where illness or a veterinary medical condition in a dog warrants." Your vet would have to provide records along with the waiver. It lasts a year and then you'll have to renew. If it were me in your place, I'd certainly give it some serious thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I will look into the exemption, though I won't have to concern myself with it for three years. Samantha is getting better, she is, this afternoon showing a bit more energy, and has taken to once again, as is normal for her, to following me from room to room, apparently so I am never out of her sight. She is probably 65+% of the way back to normal, and it really never did affect her appetite, as she licked her dish for several minutes after she emptied it, normal for her. She is once again watching the windows, to be sure that should something go by that would require barking at, she will be available to do so.
 

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On a more positive note, out there in California you have the option to get a rabies exemption for your pet: "A rabies immunization exemption may be issued by the local health officer upon the written recommendation of a California-licensed veterinarian where illness or a veterinary medical condition in a dog warrants." Your vet would have to provide records along with the waiver. It lasts a year and then you'll have to renew. If it were me in your place, I'd certainly give it some serious thought.
Just as an FYI this is just a bunch of smoke and mirrors and it comes down to the county's vet to authorize the rabies exemption, not your vet who has actually seen your pet. I can't speak for all of the counties in CA, but in Orange County the vet does NOT approve any exemptions! They have a bunch of different specific scenarios that they say qualify for the rabies exemption, but in truth they never approve any of those even if your pet should qualify. My boss and myself have talked to the office and county vet on multiple occasions for a variety of different patients that should have qualified for the exemption; and both of us have been told flat out that unless the vaccine actually killed your pet they will not approve the exemption. We've also had multiple owners who have fought their way through the "phone tree" and office politics at county to essentially be told the exact same thing. It's a terrible situation they put vets and owners in. Do owners lie and say that their pet died or they don't have it anymore? Do vets give the vaccine and risk your dogs life? Do they lie on the paper work and say your pet has been vaccinated, which is illegal and puts them at risk? And if they do give the vaccine and your pet doesn't die, does that just validate the county's decision to reject the exemption? Even though your pet had to go though a terrible ordeal and needed great lengths of medical treatment to save your pets life. If anyone has had a different experience and actually had the exemptions approved on a regular basis I would love to hear about it.

Laco- I would definitely let my vet know about the reaction that your pet had to the vaccine. In the future you may want to consider a premed before giving the vaccine to see if that helps, but this would be something to discuss with your vet.
 

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I have tried to get multiple patients to be exempt from rabies vaccines in Los Angeles and it is a steep mountain to climb... but sometimes it actually works, though they (the county) impart restrictions on the pet sometimes (no longer allowed out in public, parks etc.). Most of the time, however, it falls on deaf ears at the county... but it is their task/responsibility to ensure NOBODY in Los Angeles gets rabies (the disease). It is 100% fatal if contracted, and there is almost always at least one fatal case of human rabies yearly in the US, keeping them on their 'toes'.

The 'half dose' thing is definitely a humongous legal risk- the manufacturer states explicitly that the 1cc dose is for every dog and cat, from 1 lb to 290 lbs, regardless of how little sense that seems to make. But to go against the manufacturers guidelines is really taking a risk, and if you do that with rabies, you will lose your license for sure. I know some vets that still do it, but they do not inform the owners or staff should word leak out. Saying that, in my experience, after 30 years of giving rabies vaccines, serious reactions are extremely rare (I cannot even recall the last one I saw- maybe 10-15 years ago?) and I have given 10s of thousands of vaccines over the years (I am not counting ferrets, which we are not even supposed to vaccinating in California... and no longer do... but when we were, we saw several pretty bad vaccine reactions in those pets- never lost a pet, or even heard of one dying, from a rabies vaccine... I am sure it happens somewhere in the world, but it's probably less common than getting hit by lightening).

I do occasionally hear of dogs getting a bit lethargic or having a mild temporary case of hyperthermia, but all are usually over it in 24 hours. We had to all get rabies vaccines ourselves in vet school and we ALL get achy muscles and slight fevers, particularly by the third one, but no one I know had anything worse than that.

Rabies is still a fact of life in California, and finding rabid bats is not unusual (we have seen at least 2 at our clinic)... it is NOT a disease we want to mess around with so we always send suspicious cases to the county. I was exposed to a rabid cow in vet school though, thankfully, my titers at the time were sufficient, though I still got a free booster (human rabies vaccines are VERY expensive!).
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I have tried to get multiple patients to be exempt from rabies vaccines in Los Angeles and it is a steep mountain to climb... but sometimes it actually works, though they (the county) impart restrictions on the pet sometimes (no longer allowed out in public, parks etc.). Most of the time, however, it falls on deaf ears at the county... but it is their task/responsibility to ensure NOBODY in Los Angeles gets rabies (the disease). It is 100% fatal if contracted, and there is almost always at least one fatal case of human rabies yearly in the US, keeping them on their 'toes'.

The 'half dose' thing is definitely a humongous legal risk- the manufacturer states explicitly that the 1cc dose is for every dog and cat, from 1 lb to 290 lbs, regardless of how little sense that seems to make. But to go against the manufacturers guidelines is really taking a risk, and if you do that with rabies, you will lose your license for sure. I know some vets that still do it, but they do not inform the owners or staff should word leak out. Saying that, in my experience, after 30 years of giving rabies vaccines, serious reactions are extremely rare (I cannot even recall the last one I saw- maybe 10-15 years ago?) and I have given 10s of thousands of vaccines over the years (I am not counting ferrets, which we are not even supposed to vaccinating in California... and no longer do... but when we were, we saw several pretty bad vaccine reactions in those pets- never lost a pet, or even heard of one dying, from a rabies vaccine... I am sure it happens somewhere in the world, but it's probably less common than getting hit by lightening).

I do occasionally hear of dogs getting a bit lethargic or having a mild temporary case of hyperthermia, but all are usually over it in 24 hours. We had to all get rabies vaccines ourselves in vet school and we ALL get achy muscles and slight fevers, particularly by the third one, but no one I know had anything worse than that.

Rabies is still a fact of life in California, and finding rabid bats is not unusual (we have seen at least 2 at our clinic)... it is NOT a disease we want to mess around with so we always send suspicious cases to the county. I was exposed to a rabid cow in vet school though, thankfully, my titers at the time were sufficient, though I still got a free booster (human rabies vaccines are VERY expensive!).
Thanks for your input, its appreciated. Our Vet is very caring, but he certainly wouldn't, or be expected to risk his license. Bottom line, Samantha is doing well, I believe she is still a little sore, she told me this morning when I was brushing her, but activity level is almost back to normal, and she is eating, drinking and eliminating well. Living in LA county, and being retired from a state/county agency, I am well aware of how difficult it is to obtain any variance for virtually anything. A question, I have is, Samantha is eight years old. In three years when she will be due for another rabies booster, would you anticipate her reaction would be about the same, or would you expect it to be worse?
 

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could actually be better, or worse. I would recommend pretreating with a little diphenhydramine, and have some baby aspirin on hand in case she gets achy again. Unlikely to be a lot worse, but no way to really predict. However, how she reacts next time WILL help you predict how she will act from then on.
 
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