Free Rabies Shots at PetSmart

Providing your pet with the necessary vaccinations is critical for their health and wellbeing, and is also often a legal requirement. Many owners seek affordable options, and PetSmart is an excellent resource for pet health needs, including rabies vaccinations. Here’s everything you need to know about free rabies shots at PetSmart.

What is Rabies, and Why Vaccinate?

Rabies is a deadly viral infection that affects the central nervous system. Transmitted primarily through a bite from an infected animal, rabies can affect any mammal, including dogs and cats. As responsible pet owners, ensuring our pets are vaccinated against this deadly disease not only protects our furry friends but also contributes to public health safety.

PetSmart’s Role in Pet Vaccination

PetSmart is a popular chain of pet supply stores offering a variety of pet care services, including grooming, training, and veterinary services. PetSmart, in partnership with various veterinary and animal control organizations, frequently organizes vaccination clinics, which sometimes include free or low-cost rabies vaccines.

What to Expect at PetSmart Rabies Clinics

At a PetSmart rabies clinic, you can expect a professional service conducted by qualified veterinarians. The procedure is generally quick and minimally invasive for your pet. While the first 75 rabies vaccines may be free at some events (limited to two per household), subsequent vaccines often come at a nominal fee.

The Importance of Rabies Proof for PetSmart Services

Keep in mind, PetSmart requires proof of up-to-date rabies vaccination for various services like grooming. This requirement ensures the safety of other pets and PetSmart employees.

Alternatives to PetSmart for Rabies Vaccines

While PetSmart is a convenient choice, many other organizations offer free or low-cost rabies vaccinations. State, county, or city-run animal health services often organize rabies vaccination clinics. Check with your local animal control or health department for more information.


Rabies is a severe, often fatal disease that is preventable with the right vaccination. PetSmart, with its broad network and commitment to pet health, provides an accessible way for pet owners to protect their pets. Remember, while some clinics offer free rabies shots, always be prepared for potential costs. Vaccinating your pets is an investment in their health and longevity and contributes to the broader public health goal of rabies eradication.


What Are the Symptoms of Rabies in Pets?

Rabies in pets manifests in three stages: prodromal, furious, and paralytic. In the initial prodromal stage, pets may show signs of anxiety, fearfulness, or changes in temperament. The furious stage is characterized by increased aggression, restlessness, and erratic behavior. In the final paralytic stage, pets may suffer from paralysis and foaming at the mouth. This disease is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.

Are There Any Side Effects to the Rabies Vaccination?

Like any vaccine, the rabies shot may cause mild side effects in some pets, such as localized swelling or discomfort at the injection site, mild fever, or decreased appetite and activity. However, these side effects are temporary and usually disappear within a few days. Serious side effects are rare, but if you notice any severe or prolonged reactions, you should consult your vet immediately.

How Often Should My Pet Get a Rabies Shot?

The frequency of rabies vaccination largely depends on the vaccine used, the age of your pet, and local regulations. Generally, kittens and puppies receive their first rabies shot at around three to four months of age. They then get a booster one year from the initial vaccination and subsequent boosters every one to three years, depending on the specific vaccine and local laws.

Is Rabies Vaccination Mandatory for Pets?

In many jurisdictions, rabies vaccination is a legal requirement for dogs, and often for cats and ferrets as well. Laws can vary, so it’s crucial to check with your local animal control or health department to understand the specific requirements in your area.

How Can I Find Out When PetSmart is Hosting a Rabies Clinic?

PetSmart usually announces their vaccination clinics on their official website and social media platforms. You can also sign up for their newsletter or contact your local PetSmart store for information about upcoming clinics.

What Should I Bring to a PetSmart Rabies Clinic?

Always bring any previous vaccination records for your pet. If your pet has already had a rabies shot, proof of this vaccination is crucial. This information helps the veterinarian understand your pet’s vaccination history and adhere to vaccination schedules. For first-time vaccinations, your pet and a leash or appropriate carrier will suffice.

Can I Use Other PetSmart Services Without a Rabies Vaccination?

Services like grooming and boarding typically require proof of up-to-date rabies vaccination for safety reasons. This policy helps protect other animals and PetSmart employees from potential exposure to this deadly virus. It’s essential to check the specific requirements of each service before booking an appointment.

What Other Vaccinations Should My Pet Receive?

Apart from the rabies vaccination, your pets should also receive core vaccinations that protect against severe, often life-threatening diseases. For dogs, these include Distemper, Canine Parvovirus, and Canine Hepatitis. Cats should receive vaccines for Feline Panleukopenia (Feline Distemper), Feline Calicivirus, and Feline Herpesvirus type I. Non-core vaccinations, based on your pet’s lifestyle and location, may also be recommended by your vet.

Can I Walk in for a Rabies Vaccination or Do I Need an Appointment?

While walk-ins might be acceptable during certain clinic hours, it is always advisable to call ahead or check the website to confirm. This will help you avoid long wait times or potential disappointment if the clinic is fully booked. Making an appointment can ensure a slot for your pet’s vaccination.

How Can I Comfort My Pet Before and After Vaccination?

Before the vaccination, try to keep your pet calm and relaxed. Use a gentle tone of voice and reassuring touch. After the vaccination, provide your pet with a quiet space to rest. Monitor your pet for any signs of discomfort or adverse reactions and provide lots of love and care. Mild reactions are normal but contact your vet if symptoms persist or worsen.

Are There Any Precautions I Should Take After My Pet’s Rabies Vaccination?

After the vaccination, monitor your pet for signs of an allergic reaction, which can include facial swelling, hives, vomiting, or difficulty breathing. While such reactions are rare, they require immediate veterinary attention. Also, keep your pet calm and limit strenuous activity for a day or two following the vaccination.

Is Rabies a Risk for Indoor Pets?

While the risk is significantly lower for indoor pets, they are not entirely immune to rabies. Bats, which can sometimes get into homes, are known carriers of the disease. Therefore, it’s still crucial for all pets, including those living indoors, to be vaccinated against rabies.

How Can Rabies Be Prevented Apart From Vaccination?

Preventing your pet’s exposure to wild animals is key to preventing rabies. Keep your pets indoors at night, cover outdoor garbage cans to avoid attracting wild animals, and never approach unknown or stray animals. In addition, spaying and neutering your pet can reduce the likelihood of roaming and contact with rabid animals.

What Should I Do if I Miss a Rabies Vaccination Schedule?

If you miss a rabies vaccination schedule for your pet, it’s crucial to get the shot as soon as possible. While a few days or weeks late might not pose a significant risk, the longer the delay, the more exposed your pet becomes to potential rabies infection. Contact your vet or a local vaccination clinic, such as those held at PetSmart, to schedule a new appointment.

How Is Rabies Transmitted?

Rabies is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can spread from animals to humans. It’s primarily transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal due to the virus being present in saliva. However, it can also spread if saliva or brain/nerve tissue from a rabid animal comes into contact with a person’s mouth, eyes, nose, or a wound.

Is There a Cure for Rabies?

Rabies is almost always fatal once clinical signs appear. This fact underscores the importance of prevention through vaccination. If a pet is suspected of being exposed to the rabies virus, it’s crucial to contact a vet immediately to discuss possible post-exposure treatments, which can include a series of injections.

What Should I Do if My Pet Bites Someone?

If your pet bites someone, it’s important to provide proof of your pet’s current rabies vaccination. If your pet isn’t vaccinated, or if its vaccination status is uncertain, quarantine measures may be necessary based on local animal control regulations. In some cases, a health professional may recommend post-exposure prophylaxis for the person bitten.

How Can I Reduce My Pet’s Fear of Going to the Vet or Vaccination Clinic?

To help reduce your pet’s anxiety, try acclimating them to the experience. Short, non-medical visits to the clinic can help your pet adjust to the environment. On the day of the vaccination, provide comfort items like a favorite blanket or toy. Treats and praises can also create a positive association. Consult your vet for additional advice tailored to your pet’s specific needs.

Why Are Rabies Clinics Important?

Rabies clinics provide an accessible and often affordable way for pet owners to comply with rabies vaccination laws and ensure the health and safety of their pets. By offering vaccinations on a large scale, these clinics help control the spread of this deadly virus in the community, protecting both pets and people.

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