How Long After a Dog Bite Are You Safe from Rabies?


If you are bitten by a dog, your priority should be getting to a safe place after the attack. After that, you must seek immediate medical treatment. Even if a known dog bit you, there is a chance you could get rabies.

Understanding Rabies and Its Symptoms

Rabies is a type of virus that affects the central nervous system. While it is rare for humans to have it, getting bitten by a dog puts the victim at risk. You must seek urgent treatment for dog bites because of the potential for rabies.

While rabies has a high mortality rate, it is treatable if you take action. Be prepared that you may need to get rabies shots when you go to the hospital after a dog bite, especially if vaccination records for the dog are unavailable.

Rabies doesn’t have immediate symptoms and can stay dormant for 1 to 3 months, which is the incubation period. The symptoms will only appear when the virus makes its way through your central nervous system and impacts your brain.

By that point, it’s too late, which is why you will likely need to get rabies shots after you have been bitten. Rabies symptoms begin with a fever and a feeling of fatigue. Pain, burning, or tingling may also radiate from the site of the wound. 

Left untreated, you will likely develop insomnia, confusion, partial paralysis, hallucinations, difficulty swallowing, and salivating more than usual. Generally, it will be about 10 to 14 days before doctors can complete their tests to know if you have rabies. It may not be ideal, but getting a rabies shot after a dog bite can save your life.

What to Do After Getting Bitten by a Dog

You will need to wash the dog bite with soap and water immediately to reduce your risk of infection. After that, do not waste any time getting to a doctor or the hospital. They will examine the wound and ask questions about the dog attack. Do not leave any details out as they will use this information to decide whether or not you need a rabies vaccination.

They will likely run a few tests to check for the rabies virus or any antibodies. If there is any chance or suspicion that you may have rabies, you will be given the vaccine. You will get one dose immediately and then will need to have 4 more shots over the next 14 days.

Is There a Way to Tell If a Dog Has Rabies?

Movies and TV shows have always portrayed rabid dogs as aggressive with foaming mouths. While that can happen, not every rabid animal acts aggressively or has excessive foam oozing from its mouth.

If you know the owner of the dog, you may be able to find out if it is up to date on all of its shots, including rabies. If not, you may need to get the vaccine to protect yourself.

Once you have been treated, you should contact a dog bite law firm to find out the next steps to take. 

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