Rabies is a virus-caused sickness of the brain and nervous system. It is transmitted via the bite of a rabid animal. The virus’s incubation period, or the time between infection and the beginning of symptoms, is relatively long: approximately two months on average. Because of the virus’s long incubation period, rabies immunization is effective even when administered after infection. However, once symptoms arise, the disease advances ruthlessly and unabatedly.

What are the symptoms of rabies?

Rabies symptoms include fatigue, a sore throat, chills, vomiting, and a headache. After a week, these symptoms intensify, including disorientation, hallucinations, unusual behavior, hyperactivity, and swallowing difficulty. Rabies’ ultimate stage includes paralysis, unconsciousness, and, eventually, death. If you suspect your pet to have rabies, take them immediately to a  pet emergency hospital.

How is rabies transmitted?

Rabies is spread via contact with the saliva of an infected animal. While any mammal can develop rabies, raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes are the most commonly infected in the United States. Rabies is spread via the bite of an infected animal. Rabies can also be transmitted via licking an open wound, cutting, scratching, or licking an infected animal’s mouth, eyes, or nose. Petting a rabid animal will not result in the spread of rabies.


If a rabid animal bites you or a family member, treat the wound promptly and contact the local health authority or an infectious disease expert (at a hospital) to determine which animals in the area are prone to spread rabies. 

How should someone who has been bitten by a potentially rabid animal be treated?

The following should be included in the treatment of persons who a potentially rabid animal has bitten:


  • Using soap and water, gently clean the wound.
  • Give rabies immune globulin (RIG),* a serum preparation obtained from people with high levels of anti-rabies antibodies in their blood. To prevent the rabies virus from adhering to the nervous system, RIG should be injected into and around the wound.
  • Start the rabies vaccine regimen as soon as possible.*
  • Contact animal control. If you’re looking for a safe place to board your pet, go to your vets website and click on their boarding page

When is rabies vaccination not necessary?

If the animal (for example, a dog or cat) has lived or been observed in the region for ten days, it can be observed to see if it acts properly. 


  • If the animal shows no signs of rabies after ten days, no treatment is required.
  • In addition, animals immunized against rabies are unlikely to transmit the disease – all the more reason to ensure that your animals are rabies-vaccinated.


Mice, rats, squirrels, rabbits, birds, and chipmunks do not carry rabies. There is no indication that reptiles, amphibians, or fish have contracted or transmitted rabies.

When is rabies vaccination necessary? 

  • If no one knows the animal and it cannot be observed, or if the animal is discovered in a nation with a high prevalence of rabid animals, treatment should begin immediately.
  • If the animal shows any signs of rabies within ten days of being observed (such as strange or unusual behavior), treatment should begin immediately.


Raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats are all probable rabies carriers. Companion animals that have not been vaccinated can spread rabies, such as cats and dogs. If you have a local vet in your area, contact them immediately if you suspect your pet to have rabies. 


While human immunization can prevent deaths, it will never be enough to eradicate the disease, and expenses will continue to climb over time. The most cost-effective strategy is to invest in eliminating the risk of rabies at its source. Vaccinating at least 70% of dogs in high-risk areas is now largely accepted as the most effective way of reducing human rabies mortality.