Thanks to movie dramatization we all have a general knowledge of what rabid dogs look like. The glassy eyes, the foaming mouth, the uncontrollable aggression…
Despite the widespread knowledge of the existence of rabies, most people don’t know the full details and are often left wondering how to handle rabies (and if it is even present at all).
This article looks to explore how rabies dog bites occur, what treatment can be done, and what legal liabilities are at stake.
Please understand this article is not a substitute for medical treatment and assumes no responsibility for the proper care and diagnosis of the illness.
Where Do Dogs Get Rabies?
Most cases of rabies in dogs come from bites from wild animals. The most common animals to carry rabies are skunks, raccoons, bats, and foxes.
What Are the Symptoms of Rabies in Dogs?
Rabies generally go through three stages in dogs. The first is called the predomal stage and generally lasts 2-3 days. Symptoms during this phase often include fever, chewing at bite site, and behavioral changes.
The next phase is called the furious stage and lasts 2-4 days. The furious stage is the one most people are familiar with, and is associated with aggressive behavior, barking, disorientation, and attacks.
The final phase is called the paralytics stage and can last 2-4 days. In this stage the animal suffers from the oft-mentioned mouth foaming, paralysis of limbs, and dropped jaw. This is followed by coma and death.
How Likely Is It That A Dog Has Rabies?
Sometimes people get confused that an aggressive dog automatically has rabies. This is not the case. As you’ll notice in the cycle mentioned above, rabies penetrates a dog quickly and mainly occurs when the dog has been bitten by a rabid wild animal. These circumstances are less prevalent than people are led to believe.
Nevertheless, if you’ve been bitten by a dog, it is always wise to take as many precautions as possible.
Assessing the Bite for Rabies
The most important step for assessing a bite is getting in contact with the dogs owners. From there you can discuss when their last rabies shot occurred (if at all), and if the animal recently had any fights with wild animals or has been experiencing changes in behavior.
If the dog is a stray you will want to contact animal control asap and have them locate the dog.
Legal Rights of a Bite Victim
When bitten by a dog that may be rabid, medical treatment is your primary concern. However, once the animal has been properly diagnosed by a professional and your health is on track for recovery, you need to concern yourself with legal rights.
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, rabid or not, you may have the right to pursue for damages. The most important piece advice in this process is to get in contact with a skilled dog bite injury lawyer right away. Early in the process he/she will help you obtain the information you need from the offending party and avoid many of the common traps that insurance companies and dog owners will try to catch you in.