Could your dog be allergic to the Rabies vaccine?

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – All it takes is a clip from Stephen King’s Cujo to scare any owner into getting their pet a rabies vaccine!  Even if your dog isn’t quite so big or scary, the law requires your pup get its shot.  The problem?  Some dogs can have a reaction.

“There is kind-of a misplaced inflammatory reaction that results in a process that we call vasculitis.”  At Southeast Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Steve Lemarie is treating vasculitis in a Chihuahua named Gucci.  He says reactions to rabies vaccines are common in the breed.  Vasculitis causes inflammatory cells to target small blood vessels in the skin, which results in lesions on Gucci’s tail, ears and toes along with bruising on the skin.

Dr. Lemarie says, “We’re just collecting a little bit of the exudate from the lesion and we’re gonna stain it and take a look at it under the microscope and see if we can get a little bit better idea what’s going on.”  Dr. Lemarie uses fixative and stains that pick up different characteristics of different cell types.  He’s looking for neutrophils, which are common in vasculitis lesions.  He’ll likely give Gucci a corticosteroid and medication to increase blood flow.  Then, he’ll weigh the pros and cons of deciding what to do down the road.

“Sometimes we’ll write letters or document the process.  We don’t recommend that these guys have rabies vaccines in the future because certainly you don’t want to elicit the same type of reaction again.”  Gucci’s owners will also have to be extra cautious to ensure he doesn’t pick up the deadly viral disease.

1 Comment

  • Pamela Picard

    Interesting piece. Excellent work bringing the subject of adverse vaccine reactions to public attention. Rabies is spread by saliva in an open wound. So the owners of this dog need merely keep him out of proximity of wildlife that are vectors for rabies, primarily raccoons, skunks and bats. Be aware that according to peer-reviewed and published research by scientist, Michel Aubert, any dog or cat with at least two rabies vaccinations has a less than one in 8 million chance of contracting rabies if exposed. By contrast, you have a better than one in 600,000 chance of being struck by lightning if you stand out in a thunder storm.

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