Why Does a Dog With Rabies Die After Biting?

by Stuart | Last Updated:   October 14, 2021

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A dog with rabies does not die because it bites. Dogs die of rabies because they are infected with rabies. Biting is an outcome of the disease but has nothing to do with the progression of the disease. The infected animal will die whether they bite a human being or not. In fact, there is no relation between the biting and the dog dying due to rabies.

The word ‘Rabies’ brings to mind an enraged dog frothing at the mouth. Rabies is caused by a virus that affects the central nervous system (CNS), particularly causing inflammation in the brain.

Biting and dying are consequences of the disease. Dogs can only transmit the rabies virus after it has reached their brain and started to spread outwards through nerves. Rabies virus gets into saliva by working its way down brain nerves to the salivary glands.

Close up of a dog with rabies staring at camera and growling

Do All Dogs With Rabies Die After Biting?

Rabies is a very serious disease that needs to be addressed immediately before any symptoms show. When the affected dog comes to the aggressive phase, it’s too late and they can’t be saved. Whenever rabid dogs become aggressive, it shows that they will die shortly after.

Rabies is always deadly when medical symptoms occur. At present, there is no effective treatment for rabies after the onset of medical symptoms.

How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Die From Rabies?

When medical symptoms occur, an infected dog usually dies within five days. Rabbis have no cure and affected dogs always die. 

Keep in mind that there is no test to detect the early stages of rabies infection. After the onset of symptoms, a vet can use tests such as a blood, tissue, or saliva test to help determine the disease. 

How Can You Prevent Rabies in Dogs?

Rabies is a preventable disease. There are certain measures that you can take to help keep you from catching rabies:

  • Get a rabies vaccination before traveling to developing countries.
  • Get a rabies vaccination before working in a lab handling the rabies virus.
  • Get a rabies vaccination if you camp frequently or have exposure to wild animals.
  • Always keep your dog’s rabies vaccine up to date. Also, keep your dog’s rabies vaccination certificate in an accessible location.
  • Keep your dogs from roaming outside. Walk your dog on a leash and always be aware of your surroundings. 
  • Report stray animals to your local animal control. They may not be vaccinated for rabies.
  • Discourage contact between your dog and wildlife. Don’t encourage your pet to interact with unfamiliar domestic or wild animals.
  • Prevent bats from entering your living spaces.
  • Report any signs of an infected animal to your local animal control.

Related Reading: What Can I Give My Dog For Pain After Shots?

What if a Rabid Dog Has Bitten You?

If a ranked dog has bitten you, call your doctor immediately. Also, wash the bite thoroughly with soap and water and use a disinfectant if you have one. 

If you can safely capture the dog that has bitten you, you can quarantine it. However, if you can’t catch it safely, you can file a report or call your local animal control.

If necessary, your doctor will give you post-exposure rabies treatment. It is a costly and painful therapy to prevent the rabies virus from spreading through your body. Quick response is the key to protecting yourself from rabies.

Which Dogs Are Most at Risk for Contracting Rabies?

Unvaccinated dogs that are allowed to roam outdoors without human supervision are most at risk for rabies infection. These dogs are exposed to wild animals and have a greater chance of fighting with infected stray dogs, cats, or other wild animals.

After the bite, the rabies virus spreads to the brain cells. Once in the brain, the virus multiplies rapidly. 

How Do You Know if a Dog Has Rabies After Biting?

Rabies is one of the most devastating viral diseases affecting dogs. It is a fatal disease caused by infection with the rabies virus.

The first symptoms of rabies might appear from a few days to a year after the bite.

  • The early signs of rabies typically include behavioral changes. The dog may appear aggressive, stressed, or more shy and nervous than normal.
  • As the rabies disease progresses, dogs develop hypersensitivity to light and sound. They may also have seizures and become extremely fierce and vicious.
  • In the final stage of rabies, the dog experiences the paralysis of the nerves that control the head and throat. The rabid dog will hypersalivate and lose the ability to swallow. As the paralysis progresses, the affected dog eventually goes into respiratory failure and dies.

There is no accurate test to diagnose rabies in live animals. It can’t be detected by blood tests. The direct fluorescent antibody test, which requires brain tissue, is the most accurate test for diagnosis. However,  it can only be performed after the death of the dog.

There is no cure for rabies once the symptoms appear. Since rabies presents a serious community health hazard, dogs who are suspected of having the rabies virus are most often euthanized.

Pet Parent Tip: There are several rabies vaccines approved for dogs. All dogs between the ages of 12 and 16 weeks should be vaccinated. Your vet will advise you on the appropriate revaccination intervals.

How Long Does It Take To Know if Your Dog Has Rabies?

The rabies virus usually incubates from two to eight weeks before clinical signs are noticed. However, the transmission of the virus through saliva can happen as early as ten days before symptoms appear. 

Final Thoughts 

Rabies is a very serious disease that needs to be treated immediately at the time of infection before any symptoms show. When the rabid dog reaches the aggressive phase, it’s already too late. They can’t be saved and will die shortly after. This is because of the natural fate of the disease. 

Remember that a dog dying of rabies has no such direct relationship with the biting. Dog dies because of rabies and not because of biting people.

If you have more queries, feel free to contact us. 

Stuart loves blogging about his hobbies and passions. Sir Doggie is a place for him to share what he learns while being a pet parent. Click here to read more.
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