Should I Worry About Rabies After a Dog Bite?

Even the best-trained dogs can sometimes get too rough, and dogs you don’t know well may be unexpectedly aggressive. Dog bites remain common in Florida, but many people aren’t sure just how serious they are or what the real risks are. So just how serious is a dog bite—and will you get rabies?

Rabies may be the first disease you think of when you hear the words “dog bite,” but it’s a fairly uncommon outcome. You can get rabies from a dog only if it’s already infected with the disease, and if its saliva gets into your body. However, many dogs today are vaccinated against rabies, meaning they can’t become sick from it or infect humans or other dogs. Most cases of rabies in the U.S. come from wild animals, such as raccoons, skunks, rats or bats.

Nonetheless, rabies is a real risk from a strange dog. If you or a child is bitten by a dog, you should make every effort to find the owner so that you can discover the dog’s medical history and whether it has been vaccinated against rabies. If it has not, or you cannot find out for sure, then your doctor will likely want to take protective measures.

Although rare in humans, rabies is a deadly disease. Early on after being bitten by an infected animal, you may not know you have rabies, or you may think you only have the flu. Early symptoms include fever, headaches, and a sense of weakness or discomfort. Many rabies victims do not take these symptoms seriously enough, which can lead to tragedy.

So what can you do? Rabies is easily treated if caught early. Your doctor will need to give you a series of rabies shots that are given over the days and weeks following the bite. The first shot must be given as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours of the bite. If you are bitten by an unknown dog, seek preventative treatment immediately.

Although the risk of rabies is low in the U.S., dog bites can have other serious results. Dogs’ teeth easily tear tendons and muscles causing serious disability, and the wounds can become infected. All animal bites should be gently cleaned and taken very seriously, with prompt medical attention.

At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, we have helped numerous dog and animal bite victims recover compensation to help pay for treatment. In some cases, dog bites will necessitate surgery or physical therapy—you should not have to bear these costs alone. Contact Steinger, Greene & Feiner for a free, professional opinion on how and if to proceed with your dog bite case.