While you may have already vaccinated your dog against rabies, there is still a small chance that they could become infected. Our San Diego vets talk about rabies and whether your dog can still get rabies after being vaccinated.
What is the rabies virus?
Rabies is a very serious and often fatal disease that is spread through the saliva as well as the brain or spinal tissue of an infected animal that can be dead or alive. Most commonly this transmission happens through a bite from an infected animal.
The rabies virus spreads through the nervous system until it makes its way to the brain at which point it becomes fatal. Some common signs of rabies are:
- 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
Once your dog begins to show signs of the rabies virus it will typically die approximately 7 to 10 days later.
How long does it take for symptoms to appear?
On average it can take up to 2 weeks for the symptoms of the rabies virus to appear in animals, although there are uncommon cases where the virus doesn't begin to present symptoms for a couple of months. This makes vaccinations all the more important as well ensuring that to notify your local health unit as well as your vet and follow any instructions that you are provided regarding your animal.
Animals are able to transmit the virus up to 10 days prior to the onset of symptoms.
Can my dog still contract rabies after being vaccinated?
Unfortunately, the rabies virus is not 100% effective but this does not mean that it does not provide a large amount of protection. It is safer for your pet to have the vaccine as opposed to living without it as the rabies virus is fairly common.
In San Diego any dog that is exposed to the rabies virus and have received their rabies vaccinations will receive a booster shot immediately and will require a 30-day quarantine effective immediately along with being unable to interact with other animals for a further 60 days after the initial 30 day period has passed.
Quarantine restrictions vary from location to location therefore it is always best to contact your local health unit and veterinarian and follow their recommendations and instructions.
Can a vaccinated dog transmit rabies?
The odds of a vaccinated dog transmitting rabies are unlikely but are still possible. Regardless of vaccination status, any dog that has bitten a person must be quarantined for 10 days. If the dog or cat was infectious at the time of the bite, any symptoms of the virus within the animal will appear within 10 days.
The best and easiest form of rabies prevention is to keep their vaccinations up to date.
Being mindful and not allowing your dog to wander off is another way you can help to ensure your pet's safety, especially at night when bats and other wildlife are most active. In San Diego, there is a good chance that bats may be rabid. Be sure to bat-proof your home and avoid contact with bats at all costs.
If your dog has been sitten you should immediately and thoroughly cleanse the wound and contact the appropriate authorities as well as your vet.
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.