Does my Chihuahua have rabies? (a complete guide)

In this article, we will answer the following question: Does my Chihuahua have rabies? We will talk about the symptoms and dangers of rabies, how it can be prevented and treated. 

Does my Chihuahua have rabies?

To know whether your Chihuahua has rabies, you will first have to understand what this disease is. Rabies is a deadly disease (one of the most dangerous for dogs) that can occur in almost all warm-blooded animals. 

The main source of infection is the bite of an infected animal, which can be another dog or a cat. Other mammals are also important transmitters, such as bats, foxes, ferrets, skunks, or cattle. However, rodents do not usually transmit this disease.

If your dog is correctly vaccinated, he will be protected against this dangerous disease. That is why it is so important to strictly follow the vaccination schedules. However, we are going to consider the most characteristic aspects of this disease, as well as the usual symptoms.

Rabies in dogs

The rabies virus is present in infected saliva and enters the body through a bite. It can also be transmitted through saliva through an open wound or mucosa.

In the case of dogs, the incubation period is two to eight weeks, although it can be shortened to one or extended to a whole year. The virus reaches the brain through the nervous system, so the more distant the bite is from the brain, the longer the incubation period. After reaching the brain, the virus returns to the mouth, penetrating the salivary glands up to 10 days before the first symptoms appear.

If you suspect that your dog may have been bitten by a stray dog, a homeless cat, or come into contact with a wild, carrier mammal, you may want to find out how to tell if a dog has rabies. Pay attention to the following step by step:

  1. Look for wounds or bite signs: this disease is usually transmitted through saliva, so if your dog has fought with another dog or pet, you should immediately look for any injuries that may have caused it.
  1. Pay attention to the possible symptoms: although during the first phase no obvious signs are manifested, after a few weeks after the bite the dog will begin to manifest strange behaviors and, although these are not symptoms that can confirm transmission, they can alert you. 

Remember that dogs can present muscle aches, fever, weakness, nervousness, fear, anxiety, photophobia, or loss of appetite, among other symptoms. In a more advanced stage, your dog will begin to show an angry attitude that is the most characteristic of the disease, and that gives it the name of “rabies”. 

The symptoms that it will present will be excessive salivation (it may present the typical white foam with which the disease is related), an uncontrollable urge to bite things, excessive irritability (before any stimulus the dog will become aggressive, growl, and try to bite us), loss of appetite and hyperactivity. Less common symptoms include a lack of orientation and even seizures.

  1. The Advanced phases: If we have not paid attention to the previous symptoms and we have not taken the dog to the vet, the disease will enter the most advanced phase, although there are dogs that do not even suffer from them, because before they are euthanized or die. 

At this stage, the dog’s muscles will begin to paralyze, from his hind legs to his neck and head. He will also be lethargic, will continue to foam white at the mouth, will bark abnormally, and will have difficulty swallowing due to paralysis of the muscles.

Symptoms of rabies in dogs

The symptoms of rabies are due to inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and have several phases:

Incubation. In this phase, the dog does not yet show any symptoms of the disease. It can last from a week to several months.

Pondromic phase. It lasts from two to eight days. You will observe changes in your dog’s usual behavior. In addition, it is frequent that it bites in the place where the virus entered. Later, the dog will become withdrawn and spend time staring blankly into space.

Aggressive phase. The dog becomes dangerous and aggressive, attacking anything that moves. The muscles in your face spasm and pull your lips back, exposing your teeth. It will bite anyone who comes across it. It is a dangerous phase in which you must be careful.

Paralysis phase. The muscles of the throat and jaw are paralyzed, leaving the mouth open. Unable to swallow saliva, he drools and foams at the mouth. You may have nausea. As encephalitis progresses, the dog loses control of movement and collapses, dying of respiratory failure within a day or two. Sometimes this phase is the only one we appreciate.

What to do if we suspect that our dog may have contracted rabies

  1. Examine your dog for possible bites, wounds, or scratches on his body.
  2. In the first phase of the illness, you may be in pain, agitated, or irritable, show signs of discomfort, have a fever, photophobia, poor appetite, cough, vomiting, or diarrhea. When in doubt, go immediately to the vet to start taking the appropriate measures.
  3. You may not observe the first phases and find yourself in the last. If your dog suffers from paralysis or saliva too much, suffers hydrophobia (fear or aversion to water) and is aggressive, bites himself and tries to chew on anything that moves, go immediately to the vet.
  4. The rabies virus can survive on a dog’s skin for up to two hours, so handle it with gloves and avoid direct contact.
  5. There are other neurological diseases that present with symptoms similar to rabies. Your vet will establish the proper diagnosis.

Treatment for rabies

Unfortunately, canine rabies has no cure or treatment, since the intensity of rabies symptoms in dogs and its rapid spread cause the certain death of the animal, however, it is possible to prevent the spread of this pathology by vaccinating the dog. Therefore, when faced with an infected animal, the veterinarian will advise us to euthanize the dog, with the aim of avoiding animal suffering and possible contagion.

We remember that after the bite of an infected animal we expose ourselves to suffering from rabies in humans, for this reason, it is vitally important to wash the wound with soap and water and go as soon as possible to a medical center to receive the rabies vaccine promptly.

There is currently no treatment for rabies. Therefore, when a dog is bitten by another animal, it is assumed that it may be rabid until proven otherwise.

If the dog is vaccinated, it will be given revaccination and will be kept under observation locked up for 14 to 20 days according to the action protocol in force in our country.

If the dog is not vaccinated, it will need to be euthanized or quarantined for six months. If he is quarantined and shows no symptoms of the disease, he will be vaccinated a month before releasing him.

Prevention of rabies 

Vaccination is a very effective form of prevention. It begins at three months of age, with revaccination a year later and then every one or three years, depending on current law.

Any bite from a wild animal should be considered a potential carrier of rabies. It is essential to quickly and thoroughly clean bites and scratches with soap and water, also administering an antiseptic. 

This action greatly reduces the risk of contracting the disease. It is not convenient to suture the wound. Next, go to the vet to administer a vaccine to your dog and take the appropriate measures.

Prophylaxis should begin within 14 days of the bite, as it is not effective once the first symptoms of the disease appear.

Also, try to prevent your dog from interacting with wild or unfamiliar animals. Be careful with abandoned animals and, instead of picking them up, notify the competent authority. Do it also if you suspect that an animal that is not yours may have rabies. This will prevent the spread of the disease.

When you travel with your dog, take the rabies vaccination certificates with you, because if you enter a quarantined area and you cannot prove that your dog is vaccinated, it can be taken away.


Rabies is a deadly disease that is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal.

If your dog strictly follows the vaccination schedule, it is difficult for him to contract it.

If contracted, at first the dog will become withdrawn, they will go through a raging phase, and finally will become paralyzed, foaming at the mouth and losing control of movement.

These symptoms are general. A mad dog is not always aggressive and foams at the mouth. At times, he is fearful and submissive. There is no treatment for this disease.

Vaccination is a very effective form of prevention.

Veterinary control is essential to ensure the health of your dog. If your dog has been bitten by an animal, clean and disinfect the wound well and go quickly to the vet to take action as soon as possible.

In case of being vaccinated, your dog will be observed for 14 to 20 days, being able to be at home, locked up and isolated from people and animals. If your dog is not vaccinated, it is recommended to euthanize it. In case you refuse, you will be quarantined for six months. You will be responsible for the costs. If she shows no signs of rabies, she will be vaccinated a month before letting her come back to you.

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FAQ on Does Chihuahua have rabies?

Are Chihuahua bites dangerous?

Chihuahua bites can be dangerous as dogs can carry harmful bacteria. If left untreated, a dog bite can cause fatal infections. If you were bitten by a dog, make sure you clean the wound and get consulted by your physician. 

Do all dogs have rabies?

Not all dogs can have rabies, however, all dog bites should be treated as such. A doctor will decide whether you need to get a vaccination or not. 

Can you only get rabies through a bite?

You can’t get rabies only through a bite, but also through scratches, abrasions, open wounds, or mucous membranes in contact with saliva or brain tissue from a rabid animal.

Can I get rabies from a dog scratch?

Yes, you can get rabies from a dog scratch if the dog is a carrier of the virus and has not been vaccinated in the last year.


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