What Happens If My Dog Gets Rabies?

If your dog gets rabies, it is important to get them to a vet as soon as possible. If left untreated, rabies is almost always fatal. The virus attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis, seizures, and death.

Early symptoms of rabies in dogs include fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. As the disease progresses, they may become more aggressive and have difficulty swallowing. If you think your dog has rabies, keep them away from other animals and people and call your vet immediately.

Here’s what you need to know about rabies in dogs.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the nervous system of mammals. It’s most commonly transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, but can also be contracted through contact with their saliva or tissue.

The virus travels from the site of the infection (usually the brain) to the spinal cord and then out to the peripheral nerves. This results in inflammation of the brain and death within days or weeks if left untreated. What are the symptoms of rabies in dogs?

The incubation period for rabies is typically two to three weeks but can range from 20 days to three months. Early symptoms include fever, lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, and depression. As the disease progresses, more severe symptoms appear such as seizures, paralysis, aggression, excessive drooling or frothing at the mouth, and difficulty swallowing.

How is Rabies Diagnosed?

We perform tests on samples of saliva, serum, spinal fluid, and skin biopsies of hair follicles at the nape of the neck of the suspected dog. We test saliva by virus isolation or reverse transcription followed by polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Serum and spinal fluid are tested for antibodies to rabies virus. A brain biopsy can confirm a diagnosis but is rarely performed due to its invasiveness and because death typically follows soon after anyway.

A complete blood count, biochemistry panel, and cerebrospinal fluid analysis may be done to rule out other diseases with similar symptoms.

Can a Dog Survive Getting Rabies?

Yes, a dog can survive rabies, but it is very rare. The virus must be caught early and treated immediately to have any chance of survival. There is no known cure for rabies once symptoms begin, so prevention is key.

The best way to protect your dog (and yourself) from rabies is to make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations.

How Long Does a Dog Live If It Has Rabies?

Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms begin, but prompt supportive treatment can slow the disease from developing. There is no cure for rabies once symptoms begin, and death typically occurs within 10 days.

The length of time between contracting the virus and showing symptoms (incubation period) varies depending on the species of animal, but is typically two to eight weeks in dogs.

How Likely is It for a Dog to Get Rabies?

Rabies is one of the most feared diseases in the world. For good reason, too—it’s an almost always fatal virus that can cause serious brain damage and death in humans. But what about dogs? How likely is it that your pup will get rabies?

In the US, around 60 to 70 dogs and more than 250 cats are reported rabid each year.

In the United States, bats are the most common source of rabies infection in people. The good news is that rabies can be prevented through vaccination. All dogs should be vaccinated against rabies as part of their routine shots.

If your dog has not been vaccinated against rabies and you think he may have been exposed to the virus (for example, if he was bitten by a bat), contact your veterinarian or local health department immediately. There is no treatment for rabies once symptoms appear, so prevention is key.

What are the Signs of Rabies in Dogs?

Rabies is a serious viral infection that affects the nervous system and is almost always fatal. The good news is that it is preventable with vaccination. The bad news is that there is no cure once a dog contracts rabies.

Rabies is most commonly transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, but it can also be contracted if saliva from an infected animal gets into an open wound or the eyes, nose, or mouth. Signs of rabies in dogs can vary depending on the stage of the disease, but they typically include changes in behavior, increased aggression, restlessness, and paralysis. In advanced stages of rabies, dogs may experience seizures and froth at the mouth due to excessive salivation.

If you suspect your dog has rabies, it is important to seek professional medical help immediately as there is no treatment for the disease and it will progress quickly.

Treatment of Rabies in Dogs

Unfortunately, once symptoms appear there is no effective treatment for rabies and it is almost always fatal . Intensive supportive care may prolong life for a short time but ultimately euthanasia is recommended when someone suspects their dog has contracted rabies . There are currently no licensed DRUGS available for dogs in North America but there are some experimental treatments being developed. Vaccination remains the best way to prevent against contracting this deadly disease .

Can a Vaccinated Dog Get Rabies?

Yes, a vaccinated dog can get rabies. However, the chances are extremely low and the vaccine is very effective. The reason why a vaccinated dog could still get rabies is because the vaccine is not 100% effective.

There are also other factors that come into play such as the type of exposure and where the exposure took place.

Do Dogs Have Rabies Naturally?

In some parts of the world, rabies is still common in dogs. However, in most developed countries like the United States, vaccination programs have helped to reduce the incidence of rabies in dogs.

Most pet animals get rabies from having contact with wildlife. Because of strict laws requiring dogs to be vaccinated for rabies in the United States, dogs make up only about 1% of rabid animals reported each year.


If your dog gets rabies, it’s important to get them to a vet as soon as possible. Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system and is fatal in almost all cases. There is no cure for rabies, so once your dog has it, they will likely die within a few days or weeks.

Symptoms of rabies include aggression, paralysis, and seizures. If you think your dog may have been exposed to rabies, contact your vet immediately.

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