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Do you need shots after a dog bite?

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2022 | Dog Bite

In addition to causing injuries and psychological trauma, a dog bite can also cause you to become sick. Two illnesses of particular concern with dog bites are rabies and tetanus.

Do you need vaccinations against either of these diseases after a dog bite? It depends on the circumstances.


Rabies is a viral infection that transmits via animal saliva when it gets into the bloodstream during a bite. It attacks the central nervous system and is almost always fatal, but it has a long incubation period during which you can start receiving the vaccine if possible.

According to Up to Date, you only need vaccination against rabies after a dog bite if you cannot verify that the dog has received adequate rabies vaccination or if the dog tests positive for the virus.


Clostridium tetani bacteria produce a toxic substance that causes tetanus, a condition that causes severe muscle contractions. You have probably received vaccination against tetanus at some point in your life as this is part of a routine vaccine course for children and adults. However, the vaccine wears off after a while, and you have to have periodic boosters for full protection.

If you have received a dog bite and it has been more than 10 years since your last tetanus shot, you should have another one. If the wound is dirty, you should have a tetanus booster if it has been five years or more since your last shot.

Because of the health hazard, you should report a dog bite to animal control right away and seek medical attention as soon as possible.