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Chances of getting rabies from my dog?

Species: Dog
Breed: Rat Terrier
Age: 5-8 years
My wife was recently bit by my dog. My dog has battled allergies and likes to lick has paws untill raw. My wife tried to make him stop last night, and I think it may have startled him. He is a semi defensive dog, and really likes to protect his bed. He was licking himself on his bed He lunged and bit my wife in the side under her arm. I don't believe he really broke skin, but it has my wife a little concerend.

The dog is up to date on his rabbies and all other vaccinations, but my wife has seen that animals can still contact rabbies if vaccinated. The bite makes my wife a little concerned because she is nursing our 4 month old child. Is there anything else that should have been done besides cleaning out the bite, like mentioned it either barely broke skin or did not brake skin at all.

If you could answer that would be great, and take a lot of worry off my wife.

Thanks
Seth


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi, I'm sorry to hear that this incident happened. It must have been quite frightening.

When reading this answer, keep in mind that I am not a human physician. It's always a good idea to contact your doctor when a human's health is in question. However, I can give you some general statements about dog bites and rabies.

Rabies has to be spread via saliva and this is why a dog bite is how the virus is transmitted. In your wife's case, the fact that there was barely any break in the skin tells me that it is extremely unlikely that any saliva was injected into her.

If you are in the USA or Canada, in most places there are very few cases of rabies. So this is in your favor as well. Rabies is a problem in other parts of the world such as India but cases of rabies in North America are very rare.

When an animal has rabies they get extremely ill VERY quickly. Usually you are seeing signs within a few days. An animal with rabies will usually have very unusual neurological symptoms such as hind end paralysis. The well known symptoms of rabies such as foaming at the mouth and snapping and extreme aggression come a few days later. It is really obvious that something is wrong with dogs who have rabies. Also they would have had to have been bitten by an infected animal within the last few days.

It is very very very unlikely for a vaccinated animal to transmit rabies, provided that the vaccines are up to date. In many cases, even if the vaccines are a year or two out of date they dog can still have good protection.

All of these things mentioned above make it extremely unlikely that rabies was transmitted by your dog to your wife.

The biggest concern with a dog bite is infection. It is good to keep the wound clean. (In your case if there is no break in the skin you likely don't have to do anything more.) I wouldn't be surprised if there is some swelling, bruising and redness in the next couple of days. But if you feel that the wound is getting infected then I would definitely see your doctor. Signs of infection include increasing redness, pain, oozing of yellow or green liquid or pus.

There really isn't anything that I can think of that would cause this to be a problem for your new baby. Congrats by the way! My 2 month old is sleeping next to me as I write this.

I hope that helps. Please let me know if you have more questions.

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.