Can You Get Rabies From a Dog Scratch?


While many people love dogs, the reality is that these animals pose a risk to you, especially when they are not properly cared for. Although most dog owners ensure that their pets’ shot records are kept up-to-date, this is not the case with everyone. There are many that don’t get the required shots or get a license for their dogs and sometimes they don’t even take their sick dogs to the vet. This can mean that the animals can be the carrier of a number of diseases, including rabies.

About the Rabies Virus

Many of us are familiar with the rabies virus. We see stories about this where a dog or some wild animal bites a person, spreading the virus to the victim. If not treated right away, the virus will completely take over the person, breaking down their ability to think rationally, causing them to foam at the mouth, and making them extremely combative.

If not treated right away, this disease is a death sentence, which is why you should be treated right away if you are bitten by a wild animal. As a result, the vast majority of communities across the country make it mandatory for dogs to receive a vaccination for the disease. Dogs can be a carrier of rabies as well, but a proper vaccination eliminates any concern that the dog could spread this disease to other people or animals.

Can You Get Rabies From a Dog Scratch?

While it’s common knowledge that you can get rabies from a dog bite, it is possible to get rabies from a dog scratch as well.

While it is unlikely that you could get rabies from a dog, primarily because the majority of dogs are vaccinated in US, contracting rabies from an un-vaccinated dog is possible. If you are bitten or scratched by a dog, you should check with the owner or verify with the dog’s veterinarian that the animal is up to date on rabies vaccines. If you are unable to verify that a dog has received its vaccination, there’s is a possibility that you have contracted the rabies virus.

There are two primary ways a person contracts rabies through a dog scratch. The first of these is when there is the passing of fluids when the scratch happened. Example: the dog scratches you with its paws, but also salivates on the area of the scratch. The saliva can easily get into the wound and spread through the bloodstream, infecting the victim with the rabies virus. Quick thinking to wash the wound and treat it with an antibacterial agent may not be good enough to save yourself from contracting the virus. It only takes a very small amount to get into your bloodstream and this can happen quite quickly.

You should also be aware that the virus can be embedded within the nails of the dog. When the canine scratches a part of your body, breaking the skin, the virus can be embedded from the nail into your body. Whatever the case, you should go to a doctor immediately and let them know if you have been scratched by an un-vaccinated dog.

Doctors Have to Report Rabies Cases

In most states around the country, it is the requirement of physicians to notify the local animal control agency if a person has been bitten by a dog. In many instances, they will still notify the local animal control agency if a scratch is involved, especially if it is severe.The reason behind this is that there is a concern about a dog and its overall behavior. If there are more instances of a dog attacking someone or inflicting injury, then it may become necessary to further investigate if this dog poses a risk to the community. This can result in the dog being taken away from its owner and even being put down.

Going to a doctor and having them fill out this form may also help you know if the proper shots and immunizations have been given to the canine. You may not have direct contact with the owner, but there may be a record with animal control that can help you to avoid the need for the vaccination.

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Make Sure Your Rights Are Protected

If you are scratched by a dog and there is a possibility that rabies has been spread, you need to seek medical attention immediately. Understand that within 24 to 48 hours, this disease can completely take over your body, meaning that there will be no way to treat you. You should also be aware that if you have been put at risk by an animal like this, you may need the help of a personal injury attorney to ensure your medical costs are being taken care of. The suffering and pain you have endured as part of the possibility of contracting rabies should be taken into account when receiving some form of compensation.

Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.

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