How Much Does a Rabies Shot for a Dog Cost Near You?

Written by Rebecca Bales
Updated: July 10, 2023
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There are no second chances when it comes to vaccinating your dogs. You need to ensure they’re vaccinated before you take them home or bring them into potentially harmful situations.

Rabies has a 100% fatality rate in humans, making it vital for humans with dogs at home to ensure their furry friends are rabies-free. Every year, around 59,000 people die because of rabies.

Millions of animals die each year because of rabies too. Obviously, you want the best for your pet, but you may be wondering, how much is a rabies shot for a dog?

The cost of a rabies vaccination can range from $15 to $75, depending on the region and if registration is required.

What Is Rabies?

Rabies is a deadly virus that attacks the central nervous system. It only infects mammals. The virus travels to the spinal cord and the brain in both humans and dogs, thereby causing paralysis and eventual death. In the United States, human cases of rabies are rare.

But in developing countries, it is pretty common for people to fear catching the virus from their pet dogs and stray animals living in the wild.

Veterinarian giving a vaccine to a pug

The best way to ensure that your dog doesn’t get rabies is to keep their vaccinations up to date.

© Chernetska

Who Are the Rabies Carriers and How Do Dogs Get It?

Unfortunately, dogs and cats are the primary carriers of rabies in the household. They get rabies from animals in the wild, such as foxes, skunks, bats, and raccoons. If your dogs love to spend time outdoors, they better have their updated rabies shot because they might encounter animals that would pass rabies on to them.

Dogs get rabies through a bite by an infected animal. Animals with rabies can pass large amounts of the virus through their saliva.

Even if your dogs don’t get bitten by an infected animal, they can still get rabies from open wounds. For example, the infected animal’s saliva can go through your dog through an open wound caused by a bite or scratch.

While rabies cases are reported more in cats than dogs, unvaccinated dogs have more potential to get rabies because they are most likely to fight with other animals. That is why there’s a special campaign to have all dogs in all 50 states in the U.S. vaccinated against rabies.

How Much Does a Rabies Shot Cost?

So, how much is a rabies shot for a dog? Well, there are two kinds of rabies shots. The first is a one-year shot, which is advised for puppies getting their first shot. The second is a three-year shot, which dogs can get after the first shot has lapsed. The American Kennel Club said that a first shot is around $15 to $28, while the three-year rabies shot can cost somewhere between $35 to $60.

The cost of rabies vaccination differs in every state and clinic. It is reportedly cheaper in the south, such as in the states of West Virginia, Alabama, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and others. It only costs an average of $15 to $20 in these states.

It is more expensive in the west, such as in the states of Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, California, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, and other others. There, the vaccine costs between $18 to $25. In the Midwest and Northeast, the average cost of the rabies vaccine is $15 to $25. These are in the states of Ohio, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and others in the Midwest, and New York, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and others in the Northeast.

Veterinarians are often more expensive than animal shelters. In fact, the latter may not charge at all. There are many public and private rabies vaccination drives, so take advantage of these offers.

Aside from vaccinating your dogs, some counties may require you to register all vaccinated dogs. They will also want your dogs to wear a tag to show that they have been vaccinated. This will make the residents in specific neighborhoods feel safe and secure. The cost of registering your vaccinated dogs often ranges between $5 to $75 every year, depending on the state’s requirements.

Human hand with wounds from a dog bite

When a human is bitten by a dog, the canine must be quarantined for 10 days to ensure that it isn’t carrying rabies.


How to Prevent Rabies in Dogs?

The best way to prevent rabies in your dogs is to keep up with their vaccination schedule. In almost all 50 states, dogs must be vaccinated against rabies. The vaccine has two roles: it protects the dogs and any person the dogs might bite. If your dog bites someone, that person is protected by the vaccine in your dog. That is why the first thing that every bitten person asks is, “Is your dog vaccinated?” And if your dog is vaccinated, is the shot up to date?

You and the person who was bitten can be sure there is no vaccine transmission with the rabies vaccine. If it is not updated, your dog might be quarantined or euthanized. If unsure, dogs will be quarantined for 10 days to see if there will be symptoms of rabies.

Aside from getting the rabies vaccine, you can also keep your dogs indoors and not let them play with unvaccinated dogs. If you have to take them out, keep them on a leash and always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t let skunks and raccoons come near your dogs.

How to Diagnose and Treat Rabies in Dogs

How will you know that your dogs have rabies? These are the common symptoms:

  • Changes in attitude and behavior
  • Changes in bark
  • Dropped jaw
  • Excessive salivation
  • Extreme excitability
  • Fever
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Paralysis
  • Appetite for non-nutritious substances
  • Seizures
  • Shyness or aggression
  • Unable to swallow

In humans, the symptoms of rabies in dogs are similar to the flu. These include fever, headache, vomiting, agitation, nausea, confusion, and hyperactivity. Later symptoms include difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, hallucinations, insomnia, and partial paralysis.

The incubation period of rabies in dogs ranges from 10 days to as much as a year or even longer. Dogs have a shorter incubation period—from two months to four months. The speed at which the signs appear will depend on several functions:

  • Site of infection — the nearer the entry point of the virus is to the brain, the quicker the virus will reach the nervous tissue and the brain.
  • The severity of the bite.
  • Viral load.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for rabies. Once the dog becomes positive for rabies, it must be isolated and quarantined. It has to be euthanized most of the time to save it from pain.

Close up of a dog biting a man's hand

If you’re bitten by a dog or other animal, contact your doctor immediately.


When to Go to the Veterinarian

Go to the vet the moment you take home a puppy. The vet will tell you what vaccine shots the puppy needs. One of the first things to do is get a rabies vaccine shot. The first shot will usually last for about a year. After which, you can go for a yearly shot or one that will last for three years.

It is always better to have the second option if you have the extra money because this will ensure protection for three years. However, make sure that you will not forget about the next shot. The dog owners tend to forget about the next shot since it is three years away.

What to Do After Getting Bitten by a Dog

While dogs are naturally friendly creatures, they can sometimes turn aggressive. When you fall victim to your own dog’s attacks, the first thing to do to your wound is wash it with soap and water. This will lower the chances of infection.

Do not wait for the dogs to show symptoms that they have rabies. Instead, go to your doctor immediately and tell them what happened. They will advise you to get a rabies shot, depending on the state of the wound. Sometimes, even a scratch will warrant a rabies shot.

The rabies vaccine, called postexposure prophylaxis (PEP), for humans is effective if administered right after the bite. You’ll get the first shot to prevent getting infected by the virus. After that, you still have four more rabies vaccine shots in a span of 14 days. The rabies vaccine is safe even for pregnant women.

How to Tell if an Animal Is Infected

There is no way to know if a dog has rabies or not. Even cute toy dogs staying at home can be carriers of the virus. Dogs with rabies don’t just foam at the mouth or act aggressively. Since this can last for up to four months, owners might miss out on the signs.

The most sensible thing to do is to avoid stray dogs. But what happens if you’re outdoors and bump into homeless animals? The rules are pretty straightforward: don’t pet a stray dog or cat. It might also be better to call the local animal center when a dog becomes too distraught.

However, there are some ways to tell. Rabies can have similarities to the flu which includes weakness or discomfort, fever, and headache. There may also be signs of discomfort, prickling, itching, or a tingling sensation.

Over time, symptoms evolve to cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, and agitation.

Lastly, never touch an animal even if it is dead already. Call the local animal shelter if you are concerned about a dog on the street. They should find its owner or take it in and search for a new home for it.


Always bring your puppies to the veterinarian for rabies vaccination. If the veterinary services are too expensive, you can take the dogs to the animal shelter.

Advocates would usually have an anti-rabies campaign for stray dogs and cats. Making sure your dogs are vaccinated will not only protect them, but the vaccine will also protect people they might encounter.

Your dogs will be more sociable and friendly if they are vaccinated. You will be more confident in taking them out for walks and even taking them to reunions and dine-ins.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Krasula

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About the Author

Rebecca is an experienced Professional Freelancer with nearly a decade of expertise in writing SEO Content, Digital Illustrations, and Graphic Design. When not engrossed in her creative endeavors, Rebecca dedicates her time to cycling and filming her nature adventures. When not focused on her passion for creating and crafting optimized materials, she harbors a deep fascination and love for cats, jumping spiders, and pet rats.

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