While the risk of rabies infection in a vaccinated dog is low, rabies vaccination does not provide 100 percent protection. The veterinarians from Hyde Park Veterinary Clinic talk about rabies and what to do if you think your dog has been exposed.
What is rabies?
Rabies is a serious disease caused by a virus that can be spread from an infected mammal to any other mammal, including wildlife, pets, livestock, and humans, through saliva. If your pet is bitten by a rabid animal or gets the saliva or brain/spinal tissue of an infected animal - dead or alive - in their eyes, nose, mouth, or an open cut, it can get rabies.
The rabies virus affects the central nervous system. In animals, rabies symptoms present as:
- Behavioral changes (aggression, depression, unprovoked attacks)
- Loss of appetite or difficulty eating or drinking
- Overreacting to touch, sound or light
- Staggering or falling down with eventual paralysis
- Excessive drooling
- Biting or licking the wound site where the exposure occurred
Rabies is almost always fatal. Once signs of rabies appear, the animal will die, usually within 7-10 days.
What is the incubation period of rabies?
The incubation period is the time between exposure to the rabies virus and when symptoms of the disease begin to appear.
In most cases, your pet will show symptoms of the disease within two weeks of being exposed, but symptoms can take months to appear. This is why, if you suspect your dog has been exposed, you should get him vaccinated and carefully follow any instructions from your local public health unit.
If your pet is infected with rabies it can transmit the virus to other pets and humans up to 10 days before it starts to show any signs of the disease.
Can a dog get rabies after being vaccinated?
While the rabies vaccine is quite effective in preventing rabies in dogs, it does not guarantee 100% protection.
If your dog in Cincinnati is exposed to rabies and is up to date on vaccinations, they will receive a booster vaccine right away and will be placed in strict quarantine for 30 days, followed by 60 days of restraint by the owner (leashed and kept away from other pets or people).
Quarantine and confinement times vary by state and county. You should always report potential rabies exposures to your vet and local public health unit and carefully follow their directions.
Can you get rabies from a dog that has been vaccinated?
While getting rabies from a vaccinated dog is unlikely, there is still a chance. When a pet bites a person, both vaccinated and unvaccinated pets must be quarantined for ten days. If the dog or cat was infected at the time of the bite, rabies symptoms in the animal will usually appear within a few days, if not sooner.
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.
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.