My Puppy Bit Me – Will I Get Rabies?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

If your puppy just bit you, relax and do not panic!

I know you are concerned about both you and your puppy.

But before answering the question in detail, I want to tell you that there’s nothing to worry about.

So will you get rabies if your puppy bit you?

Not really. It’s only possible in two conditions:

  • Your puppy got bit by a rabid animal before it bit you
  • You haven’t gotten your puppy vaccinated before it reached the age of 5 months.

And just to be clear, not every dog has rabies. So you are very unlikely to be exposed to rabies.

Now take a sigh of relief.

But do be sure to read the rest of the article, as the chances for you to get rabies are low, but not zero.

What Happens When You Get Rabies?

Can You Get Rabies If Your Puppy Bit You?

Vaccination

Dogs typically get vaccinated against rabies at the age of 3 months.

Then, they get vaccinated again at the age of 1 year and after that, the vaccination is done every 3 years. (This routine may vary)

So it is unlikely that you will get rabies if you practice vaccination regularly.

But what if a rabid animal bit your puppy before it bit you? Well in this case, you might be in danger.  Because rabies is a very fatal disease and cannot be cured once it sets in your body!

Watch this video to know the effects of rabies on a human body:

What should you do when you are bit?

The virus will not spread if your puppy bit you on your skin. But it might spread if your puppy bit you on any wounds or bit a wound in your skin itself.

No matter how deep or shallow the bite may be, you need to go and wash it with soap and water properly. Wash it with an antiseptic liquid if possible. This would further lower your chances to get rabies.

After washing your wound, we would recommend going for a check-up immediately. Your doctor will run some blood tests to see if you need any medication for not.

Otherwise, you can wait around for about 10 days to look for any symptoms if you think the bite wasn’t too deep.

One more thing:

There are some diseases other than rabies that might be carried by your dog into your body through a bite.

So give your dog some proper chew toys to chew on because letting your dog chew on your skin is a bad idea.

Treatment

If your tests go positive, the doctor will give you a rabies vaccine which is called the post-exposure prophylaxis. The vaccine is mostly successful if you are not late.

You will then get one fast-acting rabies immune globulin which will prevent you from getting infected. After that, you will get 4 rabies vaccines in the next 2 weeks.

Symptoms

Fun Fact:

Rabies is a disease that takes about 1 to 3 months to sit in because the symptoms start showing when the virus reaches your brain.

So this means that it would take longer for you to be affected considering how far away you were bit from your brain!

And fortunately this also means that you will have more time to get your body checked up and get started with your treatment.

Before going for a check-up, look out for these symptoms just to be sure that you have rabies or not:

  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty in eating/drinking
  • Paralysis
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive salivation

Over time if the virus is not cured, it would lead to lung or heart failure, coma, and even death.

Here’s the deal:

If you have these symptoms, then you have got rabies. And this obviously means that your dog has rabies too.

So keep reading to know more about rabies in dogs.

Rabies and dogs

What is rabies?

Rabies is a virus that spreads through the contact of the infected animal’s saliva with the victim’s exposed skin. It affects the brain and spinal cords.

If your dog is not properly vaccinated, the virus can turn out to be fatal.

How does it spread?

Your puppy is unlikely to get rabies if you do not allow it to roam outside freely. But if you do let it roam outside, there is a chance for your puppy to get bit by a rabid animal or dog.

Rabies spreads when an infected animal’s saliva gets in contact with the exposed skin of other animals. The skin might be scratched or wounded for it to get infected.

The virus is then carried through the bloodstream to the brain. The transmitting of rabies is the same in animals to animals as in animals to humans.

These animals have the highest risk of transmitting rabies:

  • Bats
  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
  • Foxes

Watch this video to learn how is rabies spread:

Symptoms of rabies in your puppy

If your dog is infected with rabies, first you will see some behavioral changes.  Then it would be followed by two forms of the same disease:

1. Dumb Rabies:

Your dog will face paralysis of limbs. Then eventually, its jaw and throat will start to slack leading it to be unable to swallow saliva. Because of this, you will see foaming at the mouth.

Then eventually, your dog will lose its appetite, would get disoriented, get seizures, all of which would lead to death.

2. Furious Rabies:

This form of rabies involves your dog getting more aggressive and getting more excited than usual.

Your dog would then try to eat abnormal things like dirt or rocks. Then eventually, it would no longer be able to eat or drink, would get systematic paralysis, and would finally die.

Treatment

Pat Robertson says:

You don’t go and kick a mad dog. If you have a mad dog with rabies, take a gun and shoot it”

And no. I am not telling you to shoot your dog. It’s just that if your dog has started showing the severe symptoms, then there is not much you can do about it.

The vet might give an anti-rabies serum which could interrupt the infection. But as I said before, there is not a definitive cure for rabies, and treatment is only possible if you are not too late in getting a check-up of your pet.

Prevention

Prevention is all you can do in the case of rabies. And vaccination is the best prevention of rabies.

There are different rabies laws according to the region you live in but the most recommended time to get your puppy the first shot of vaccine is when it is 3 to 4 months old.  

Other shots will follow according to the routine your vet tells you.

Related Questions

Are puppy bites dangerous?

Puppies can transfer some bacteria which is bad for humans when they bite you. It is more dangerous if the puppy bit you on exposed skin as the bacteria can then easily enter your body. But other than that, puppy bites are okay as long as you wash the area where it bit you afterwards. And a puppy’s small and weak teeth cannot cause any serious damage to your skin.

Do I need tetanus for a dog bite?

Well it depends on how long ago you were given a tetanus shot before. So before getting a tetanus shot, tell your doctor how long ago were did you take your previous tetanus shot. Normally if there’s a gap of more than 5 years, a fresh tetanus shot is required to avoid any infection.

Do all dog bites need antibiotics?

Dog bites can lead to infections that can be treated with antibiotics. Apply any antibiotic gel or ointment regularly on the wound to avoid infection. Consult your doctor for further help.

Conclusion

Now:

If your dog is already infected with rabies, then there is not much you can do.

Just try to get it some anti-rabies serum to slow down the effect of rabies.

Also, we recommend you quarantine your rabies infected puppy or dog in case they bite someone else as well. And get them immediate medical attention to prevent things from worsening. Good luck!

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