Rabies is an often fatal viral infection that is transferred when a pet comes into contact with an infected host. Most often, exposure occurs through contact with affected wildlife, namely bats, coyotes, foxes, or skunks. A rabid animal could bite another or make contact with an existing wound, resulting in an infection; transmission can also occur when an animal makes contact with infected saliva through the eyes or mouth. Being that the virus is zoonotic, humans are capable of contracting rabies from their pets.

A rabies vaccination is currently required by law in every state; however, exemptions do exist in 15 states. An exemption can be obtained for various reasons, including if the pet owner plans on keeping their pet in isolation or if a serious medical issue proves the vaccination would cause more harm than good. In most cases, veterinarians strongly recommend a rabies vaccination for all mammalian pets, and booster shots are required every one to three years.

Symptoms that a pet has rabies

There are several different phases during which a rabid pet will exhibit symptoms of rabies: the prodromal phase, the furious phase, and the paralytic phase. The furious phase most commonly occurs among cats, and the paralytic phase can occur either after the prodromal or furious phase. It can take up to eight weeks for noticeable symptoms to appear; however, a pet can become contagious up to ten days prior.

Prodromal phase: 

  • Bouts of irritability. 
  • Fever. 
  • Nervousness. 
  • Shyness. 
  • Solitude.

Furious phase: 

  • Biting. 
  • Disorientation. 
  • Increased sensitivity to sound and light. 
  • Irritability.
  • Possible viciousness. 
  • Restlessness. 
  • Seizures.

Paralytic phase: 

  • Eventual respiratory failure.
  • Facial paralysis. 
  • Inability to swallow. 
  • Increased salivation. 
  • Labored breathing.

What do I do if my pet is exposed to rabies?

Rabies is impossible to positively diagnose in a living animal or human. In order to definitively determine whether a pet has the virus, the brain tissue must be examined; therefore, tests are not conducted until a pet has passed on.

If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to a rabid animal, call the veterinarian immediately. Also, be sure to report the incident to your local health department and animal control center, and listen to their recommendations. If you must handle your pet, be sure to do so cautiously, as the virus can live on a pet’s skin for a few hours. Preventative measures, including wearing gloves and protective clothing, are the best way to prevent self-exposure to the virus.

Pets that are up-to-date on their vaccinations and have been bitten will be immediately administered with another vaccination and should be closely monitored by their owners for the next 45 days. If a pet is not vaccinated, euthanasia is highly recommended. If a pet owner is against euthanasia, it is possible to keep the pet in isolation for a 6 month period (usually at a pound or shelter), administering a vaccination immediately and again after 28 days. In these instances, it is rare that the pet will survive, but it still remains an option. If a vaccination has lapsed, public health officials will determine what action to take based on how past-due a pet is, the pet’s overall health, and how severe the exposure was.

If you have any questions about rabies or preventative measures you can take for your pet, please contact our office.


Read what people are saying about us.

read more


We took our 5 month old puppy in to get neutered today and had a great experience. They educate you on expenses without making you feel guilty if you decide against extra options. We were able to pick him up 5 hours after dropping him off which was also amazing. Would highly recommend to anyone looking for a vet.

Chelsea G.'s

Dr. Genova has been my 4 legged daughter's doctor for her whole life (10 years). He is very personable, informative and kind. I seriously cannot say enough positive things about him.. Why else would I trust him to take care of my baby girl?

The rest of the staff is also very kind. Most of them have changed throughout the years but one thing that hasn't is that you can immediately tell how much they all love animals.

This is definitely one of this places that I wish I could give more than 5 stars to.

John L.

We had our first experience at Village at Main Veterinary Hospital today and I couldn't wait to write a review because of how pleased I was with the entire staff and environment. I arrived way early for my appointment but they took me anyway since it was open with no problem at all. As soon as we walked in the door my puppy and I were greeted with smiles and even staff that didn't run the counter came out and greeted and loved on my puppy as well which really put her at ease. Every staff member acknowledged our presence at some point. We were taken back to an exam room and we saw Dr. Tran who was warm and loving toward my puppy, she really took her time and you could easily see that she loves what she does. Dr. Tran covered all of my questions I had planned to ask as well as asked if I had any others. I would highly recommend this clinic to anybody who has had a bad experience at another clinic because it will totally make up for it as it did in our case. Thank you so much again for making us feel right at home and loving what you guys do, I will continue to drive 30 minutes just to have my pooch continue to see you guys :)

Tiffany B.

View More