Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Vaccination, Rabies



Rabies is rare but fatal in horses. It poses a similarly grave risk to humans. Infected horses can infect human handlers. For that reason, rabies deserves special consideration.

Rabies vaccines are generally effective and provide peace of mind in the event a horse is exposed to the disease. Rabies is a “core” vaccine, recommended for every equine by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP).

Rabies is given annually as an intramuscular injection. Depending upon the specific product used, vaccination may either start with a single shot, or a primary shot and a booster in 3-6 weeks. Due to the public health implications of this disease, your vet administers this vaccine. It cannot be purchased over-the-counter.

Related DiagnosesThis Treatment Might Be Used for these Diagnoses

Consider Potential Side Effects & Complications

The vaccine is generally quite safe. However, as with all vaccines, adverse reactions are possible. Any vaccine can cause local swelling and pain. Horses may be depressed and lose their appetite. Anaphylactic reactions are possible and can cause severe depression, colic, diarrhea or hives.

Consider Reasons Not To Use This Treatment

Not used in foals under 6 months of age born from vaccinated dams. For foals born from unvaccinated dams, vaccination begins at as early as 3 months.

Is It working? Timeframe for effect

A horse should have protection from rabies within weeks after the first series of vaccine. Horses that have received a booster in years following will have a spike of immunity, within a few days after vaccination.

Questions To Ask My Vet

  • What is the best vaccination protocol for rabies?
Merck Animal Health Equirab® with Havlogen®, Equine Vaccine
Merial Equine Potomavac® + IMRAB®, Equine Vaccine
Merial IMRAB® 3, Equine Vaccine
Merial IMRAB® Large Animal, Equine Vaccine
Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. Rabvac® 3, Equine Vaccine
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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


American Association of Equine Practitioners website. Vaccination Guidelines. Available at: Accessed 2013.
Wilson WD, Pusterla N. Current Concepts in Equine Vaccination & Infectious Disease Control in Smith BP ed., Large Animal Internal Medicine, 5th ed. St. Louis: Elsevier, 2015; 1437.


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