How do we recognize the signs & confirmed an infection?

The time the virus takes to travel from the wound to the brain and for the disease to develop varies. This is called the incubation period. It will be shorter if the injury is near the head. For a dog, the incubation period generally lasts about 2 months. But it can be as short as 2 weeks and sometimes as long as 6 months.

A dog that starts to show symptoms of the disease will die within a few days. If a dog has been sick for more than 10 days, it is not rabies.

On another hand, if a dog bites someone, that doesn’t mean the dog has been infected with rabies or that he is contagious. This is why we are asked to keep the pet in observation and alive for a period of 10 days. A dog with the virus in its salivary glands, which implies that its brain is already contaminated, will quickly show signs of the disease. 

If an animal is still healthy 10 days after biting, we can be sure that it could not have had any virus in its saliva when it bit.  It could not therefore have transmitted rabies. But it may still be incubating it.  That is why we start a 10-day observation period after any bite.

If a vaccine is given to a dog that was infected more than 7 days previously, the vaccine cannot prevent the development of the disease. The virus is hidden in the nerves, well protected. This means that only 6 months after the first dose can we say that the dog is vaccinated and free of rabies.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a deadly virus passed to mammal, like humans, dogs, foxes and wolves by saliva. It is endemic in Arctic foxes and red foxes. In years when these species are more abundant, rabies cases are more common. Even if no cases are discovered in a year, caution is essential. Rabies is out there.

The rabies virus infects the nerves and brains of the victims. A few days before death, the virus in the brain spreads to the saliva. An animal that becomes ill because of the virus in its brain may become aggressive, but not always. By biting, it spreads the virus through its saliva. If it bites a person, a dog or other mammal, the virus in the wound will reach the nerves and brain of the new victim. The cycle begins again.

Rabies possible symptoms for dogs

  • Change in attitude and behaviour
  • Uncoordinated movements 
  • Dropped jaw
  • Changes in bark
  • Fever
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Staggering
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Fear of water
  • Shyness or agression

How can I protect myself and my pets?

The rabies virus does not survive long in the environment. It is a fragile virus that is destroyed by light, heat, soaps, disinfectants and by drying. Washing a wound immediately after an incident with soap and running water is very important. Cold and frost preserve the virus. It could be present in the frozen carcass of an animal that died of rabies. Keeping garbage and carcass remains out of reach of dogs and animals reduces risk of rabies spreading in the community. When garbage and carcass remains are left in the open, dogs and hungry animals will fight over the tasty bits. It’s also risky to feed someone else’s dog, for the same reason.

Rabies vaccines are very effective. All dogs over 3 months of age should be vaccinated with 1 dose every year. Rabies vaccine can be given to a pregnant dog, but this is not the case for all vaccines. 

Also, to keep your dog or cat under close supervision and tie up when outside is one of the most essential thing to do in order to prevent the spread of rabies.

It is VERY important to contact Chisasibi Animal Care and Control if you notice that your dog or cat has been bitten or scratched.

To make sure your pets and family are safe you will need to vaccinate your indoor dogs and cats as well as your outdoor dogs and cats.


Contact Chisasibi Animal Care and Control by text or call (819) 855-6063 to get your pet vaccinated against rabies for FREE.

To learn more about Rabies

MAPAQ - Rabies in Animals: What to Know

Quebec - Rabies in Humans

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