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Can a vaccinated dog get rabies?

Though your dog may have been vaccinated against rabies, there's still a tiny risk that they may become infected. Our Wisconsin Dells vets define the rabies virus, and talk about the chances of a vaccinated dog getting rabies.

What is the rabies virus?

Rabies is a very serious, often fatal virus that spreads through contact with saliva, brain, or spinal tissue of an infected animal that may be dead or alive. This disease is most often transmitted through a bite from an infected animal. 

When the rabies virus reaches the brain after spreading through the nervous system, it becomes fatal. Common symptoms of rabies include: 

  • Excessive drooling
  • Behavioral changes such as aggression, depression, unprovoked attacks, or even uncharacteristic affection 
  • Overreacting to light, touch, or sound 
  • Biting or licking the wound where the exposure occurred 
  • Loss of appetite or difficulty eating or drinking 
  • Barking differently 
  • Staggering or falling down, with eventual paralysis 

Once signs of rabies start to appear, the infected animal typically dies between 7 and 10 days later. 

How long does it take for symptoms to appear?

It may take anywhere from two weeks to four months after your dog has become infected with the rabies virus for symptoms to begin to appear. This potentially long incubation period is just one reason it's imperative to vaccinate your pet against rabies, in addition to notifying your local health unit and your veterinarian if your pet has been bitten by another animal. 

Follow any instructions from either of these regarding your dog's health status. Animals can also transmit the virus up to 10 days before the onset of symptoms. 

Does the rabies vaccine prevent rabies in dogs?

Almost every pet owner wants to be attentive to and cautious about their pet's health, and most intend to be diligent about keeping up with vaccinations and exams. 

That said, you may be curious and wonder, 'Can dogs get rabies after they've had their vaccination?'

Unfortunately, the rabies vaccine is not 100% effective. However, the shot does provide a large amount of protection. The rabies vaccine is so effective that dogs who have been vaccinated rarely become infected even if they are bitten by a rabid animal. 

It's much safer for your pet to have the vaccine as opposed to living without it, since the rabies virus is fairly common. 

Any dog in Wisconsin Dells that's exposed to the rabies virus and has received their rabies vaccinations will receive a booster shot immediately and will need 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 you get rabies from a dog that has been vaccinated?

The odds of a vaccinated dog transmitting rabies to a person 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. 

What is the best way to reduce the risk of my dog getting rabies?

The best and easiest form of rabies prevention is to keep their vaccinations up to date. Maintain your schedule of regular wellness checkups with your vet and notify them about any behavioral or other concerning changes in your pup.

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 Wisconsin Dells, 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 bitten 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.

Is it time to have your dog microchipped? Contact our Wisconsin Dells vets to book an appointment today.

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