As a dog owner, you already know how important it is to have your dog vaccinated against rabies. But there may be some other facts about this disease you weren’t aware of, too.

Read through the information below to find out more about dog rabies so you can be better informed about this dangerous disease. If you have any questions, feel free to call GreenTree Animal Hospital in Libertyville, IL at 847-680-6543.

Rabies is highly contagious

Rabies is an extremely contagious disease for dogs as well as every other warm-blooded mammal. It can be spread easily from dog to dog, and it is also commonly spread from raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes to dogs.

Dogs can spread it to cats, other household pets, and humans as well.

Because of the contagious nature of this illness, it is crucial for any animal who may have been infected by rabies to be isolated immediately.

Under no circumstances should the animal come into contact with any other animals or humans until a veterinarian has had a chance to do a thorough examination.

Rabies is almost always fatal to dogs

Most of the time, rabies is a fatal disease for any infected dog. It is extremely uncommon for dogs to be able to be cured from rabies, although it has happened very rarely in the past.

Like humans, dogs cannot recover from rabies if the problem isn’t noticed as soon as it occurs.

Dogs have the best chance of surviving a rabies infection if they are taken to the vet right away after being bitten by a potentially infected animal.

You should take your dog to the vet if they are bitten by an animal you know is rabid, but also if they are bitten by an animal whose history you’re unsure of. This even includes neighborhood pets.

By the time a dog shows symptoms, it is likely too late to help

As symptoms begin to appear, it is usually already too late for your dog to receive the right treatment to cure rabies. Rabies treatments are only effective if they are administered before the first symptom even starts.

The incubation period for rabies is anywhere from a few days to several weeks, although about a month is generally the most common length of time from the bite to the infection. This is why it is important to act quickly if your dog has been bitten.

Most common symptoms

You may have heard of dogs frothing at the mouth when they have rabies, and this is true. Rabies causes the muscles of the throat to become paralyzed, making it painful or even impossible for a dog to swallow.

When this happens, the dog’s saliva builds up as excessive drool that looks like frothing.

For the same reason, dogs become afraid of water when they have rabies. They will be unable to drink without pain, and this will make them shy away from water at all. Dogs may also show mood changes, including overly friendliness or excessive aggression.


Saliva is the number one means of transmittal for rabies from dogs to other dogs or between other animals.

This is why rabies is generally associated with being bitten by a rabid animal; when the animal bites and breaks the skin, the saliva has a chance to come into contact with the bloodstream. This is what causes the infection.

Rabies can also be transmitted through scratches and licking, but this is much less common.

Since rabies tends to cause dogs to become aggressive as the disease progresses, biting is much more common than other activities that lead to infection.

In most places, it is illegal to own a dog that is unvaccinated against rabies.

There are still some places in the United States and around the world that do not legally require a rabies vaccination for dogs, but they are few and far between.

Most countries now require this vaccination if you want to own a dog legally, and you may need to show proof of your dog’s up-to-date rabies shot if you want to travel with your pet as well.

Additionally, if you live in a rented space or under a Homeowner’s Association, you may be required to show proof of vaccination to your HOA or landlord before you can have a dog.

Now that you’ve had a chance to brush up on your dog rabies facts, you can feel more confident in your knowledge about this disease. If you have any further questions or concerns about your own dog or about rabies in general, call GreenTree Animal Hospital at 847-680-6543. And if you think there is even a slight chance your dog has been bitten by an infected animal, don’t wait—take them to the vet immediately.