The rabies vaccine is important because it greatly lessens your dog's chances of contracting the rabies virus. However, it is not 100% guaranteed to prevent contraction. Here, our White Hall vets discuss if vaccinated dogs can get rabies and how to prevent it.
What is rabies?
Rabies is a serious and often fatal disease that can infect any animal, including pets and humans. If your pet is bitten by a rabid animal or if saliva or spinal/brain tissue of an infected animal — alive or dead — in an open cut, or their mouth, nose or eyes.
The rabies virus impacts the central nervous system. When animals attract the disease, they may display any of several symptoms.
What are the common symptoms of rabies?
Common signs of rabies include:
- Excessive drooling
- Staggering or falling down (eventual paralysis)
- Behavioral changes (unprovoked attacks, aggression, depression)
- Overreacting to light, touch or sound
- Biting or licking the site of the wound where the exposure occurred.
Rabies is almost always fatal. Once symptoms of rabies appear, the animal will usually die within 7 to 10 days.
What is the incubation period for rabies?
The incubation period is defined as the time between exposure to the rabies virus and when symptoms of the disease start to appear.
In most cases, your pet will start to show signs of the disease within two weeks after exposure. That said, they can sometimes take many months to display symptoms. That's why it's critical to get your dog vaccinated and to follow any instructions from your local public health unit carefully if you think your pet may have been exposed.
If you live in White Hall and your dog is exposed to rabies, ensure their vaccinations are up to date. They will receive a booster vaccine immediately after exposure and will need to be placed into strict quarantine for 30 days, then restrained by the owner (leashed and kept away from other pets or people) for an additional 60 days.
The duration of confinement and quarantine times will vary by state and county. Potential rabies exposures should always be reported to your vet and local public health unit. Carefully follow any directions you receive.
Can you get rabies from a dog that has been vaccinated?
While it is unlikely to get rabies from a vaccinated dog, there is still a slight risk. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated pets that bite a person must be quarantined for 10 days. If the dog or cat was infectious at the time of the bite, signs of rabies in the animal will usually follow rather quickly and certainly within 10 days.
How can I prevent my dog from contracting rabies?
The best thing you can do to protect your dog from contracting rabies is to keep their vaccinations up to date.
You should also never allow your pet to wander unsupervised, especially at night when bats and other wildlife are most active. In White Hall County, bats are the most likely to be rabid. You should bat-proof your home and should never capture, handle, or keep wild bats as pets.
If you or your pet is bitten you should vigorously wash the bite wounds with soap and water as soon as possible and contact the appropriate authorities right away.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.