Canine Bite With Rabies Symptoms and Treatment

"Dog bite rabies (Rhabdoviridae virus) needs to be treated immediately if a human or dog is bitten. Only mammals can contract rabies. Dogs that bite a human need to be quarantined and checked for symptoms. Rabies are usually carried by foxes, bats, skunk, raccoon and coyotes."

Dog's with rabies in the U.S. are extremely rare. It is transmitted when either you or your dog is bitten by an infected animal.

If you are bitten by a dog that you believe has rabies, you should disinfect the area on your skin with soap and then see a doctor immediately. Immediate treatment with a vaccine for humans can be a life saving step.

After a bite from ANY animal, that animal should be quarantined for 10 days to determine if they show any symptoms associated with rabies. If they do then the animal should be euthanized (killed) and then tested for rabies. Animals from the wild should be tested immediately.

If possible, cage the animal that bit you or your dog so that it can be tested for the rabies virus. If you are unable to catch a potentially infected animal inform the local authorities so that they can find the animal and prevent it from spreading the infection.

After infection it can take anywhere from 10 days to 6 months for symptoms to appear. Dogs that might have been infected are quarantined to ensure that the virus does not spread.

Your dog is unlikely to get rabies if he is bitten by another dog or even a wild animal. Of course, your dog should be vaccinated against rabies, which will protect him even if he is bitten by a rabid animal.

Dogs should be vaccinated for rabies at age 12 – 16 weeks and again at age one year. After that they should be vaccinated yearly or every three years, depending on the vaccination used. Make sure you check with your vet about how often your dog needs to be vaccinated.

dog bite rabies
Dog Bite Rabies Vaccination in Patient
Vaccination helps protect dogs from rabies and
helps to limit the spread of the disease

Source: Centers for Disease Control

Dog Rabies Symptoms

Dogs with rabies will go through three stages of the disease. The disease progresses through the nerves and then on to the salivary glands. It multiples quickly in the salivary glands causing the foaming at the mouth. The last stage is death due to paralysis.

The most noticeable symptoms are changes in behavior and unexplained paralysis (inability to move a part of the body). Animals that seem different than usual such as a nocturnal animal appearing during the day or an animal that loses any fear of people could be infected.

Rabies Diagnosis

There is currently no test for rabies in a dog. Researchers are working on a blood test, but none exists at this time. The only way to diagnosis rabies in a dog is to examine brain tissue. This means that dogs believed to have rabies must be euthanized.

If a dog is bitten by an animal that is believed to be rabid, the dog should be quarantined. If the dog has been vaccinated for rabies, he should still be quarantined as a precaution. A vaccinated dog should be quarantined for 90 days, while an un-vaccinated dog should be quarantined for six months.

If the dog develops symptoms of rabies during this time, he should be euthanized.

Canine Rabies Treatment

There is no treatment for dog bite rabies. It is always fatal. That’s why it is so important to have your dog vaccinated regularly.

If a person has had their rabies shots, the dog bite or animal bite wound is cleaned with soap and water. They receive 2 vaccine injections.

Humans that have not been vaccinated first have the bite sound cleaned followed by the injection of Rabies Immunoglobulin in the wound. Humans are then given 5 injections of the rabies vaccine over a 1 month period.

Rabies can be fatal in humans, so if their is any concern over vaccination status, treatment is provided as described above.


Merck Veterinary Manual

Clinical Diagnosis for Rabies in Live Dogs
Tesumethanon, Veera, DVM, Lumlertdacha, Boonlert, DVM, Mitmoonpitak, Channarong, DVM, Wilde, Henry, MD

You & Your Dog
A Complete Guide to the Care & Behavior of Dogs
Taylor, David

Washington State University