Do I Need a Rabies Shot?


The rabies Post-Exposure Prophylaxis aka the PEP vaccine isn’t necessary for every animal bite. But it is a decision that is best left up to your doctor and local health officials.

Rabies is a virus that is spread through saliva or nervous tissue. Any bite, big or small, that punctures the skin can spread the disease.

After the onset of symptoms, rabies is 100 percent fatal. Time is the most important factor in preventing illness. After any bite that breaks the skin, seek immediate medical attention.

Do I Need a Rabies Shot?

A lot of people wonder, do I need a rabies shot after a bite? Here are some general guidelines on what to expect.

You can only be 100 percent sure you are safe from rabies or any other infections, after you’ve been checked out by a doctor.

  • Healthy Dog, Cat, or Ferret – You may not need a rabies shot if the animal that bit you remains healthy during a 10 day observation period following the bite. You need to keep your doctor up-to-date on the health status of the animal.
  • Sick Dog, Cat, or Ferret – Animals that appear ill at the time of the bite need to be quarantined by a veterinarian for at least 10 days. You should ask your doctor about the anti-rabies vaccine during this time.
  • Unknown (Escaped) – If an animal is not available for observation, pubic health officials will take into account the animal’s history to decide if a vaccine is the best course of action.
  • Wildlife – Any wild animal that bites is considered rabid, unless proven otherwise by a laboratory test. You will be considered for immediate vaccination.

What to Expect From a Rabies Vaccine

If the dog or cat that bit you starts acting rabid or your doctor determines you need a rabies shot, don’t worry. The shot isn’t particularly menacing and is safe for kids. Current rabies vaccines are given in the arm like a flu shot and are relatively painless.

You will receive five shots over the course of 14 days.

  • Day 1 – Rabies immune globulin and the first dose of the rabies vaccine
  • Day 3 – 2nd dose of the rabies vaccine
  • Day 7 – 3rd dose of the rabies vaccine
  • Day 14 – 4th dose of the rabies vaccine

If you were exposed to rabies in a pet attack, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical expenses and sufferings. At Bergener Mirejovsky, our dog bite lawyers have helped many bite victims get rabies shots, surgery, and other medical care with no out of pocket costs.

You’re not on your own. If you have questions on how to proceed after your dog or cat bite, call 1-800-881-2021.

NO RECOVERY. NO FEE.
That means we charge you nothing unless we reach a successful settlement of your claim. If we don’t get you compensated for your damages, you don’t pay us a dime.
  • TELL US ABOUT YOUR ACCIDENT

MEDIA PARTNERS