Common Rabies and Puppy Bite-Related Questions

“My Puppy Bit Me! What Should I Do?”

The scenario is usually this – a puppy, playful as can be expected, nips an owner during play, hard enough that blood is drawn or a bruise is formed. Usually it is just a scratch, barely more than a welt, and sometimes not even bad enough to break the skin. I have seen paper cuts that are more severe. Panic follows. Fear of rabies infection sets in. Many times, pet owners come to me in a panicked state with the usual questions:

Q: What should I do as first aid for the bite?

A: 1. If a puppy bites or scratches you, immediately clean the wound with soap and running water.
2. Thoroughly scrub the wound for around 5 minutes.
3. After rinsing, apply povidone iodine OR 70% alcohol solution to the wound.
4. Consult a medical doctor or visit a bite clinic.

Also, read my article on First Aid for Dog Bites and Scratches for more details.

Q: Do you administer anti-rabies shots for people?

A: No, I’m a veterinarian, an animal doctor. I don’t treat people nor carry vaccines for human use. The rabies vaccines that I have are for animals and are given to animals to prevent them from contracting rabies from animals that are infected with the rabies virus.

Q: Do I need post-exposure rabies shots from a medical doctor?

A: That is a question that should be answered by a medical doctor.

Q: Could you please inject our puppy with rabies vaccine now, just in case our puppy bites us again?

A: I can inject the puppy with rabies vaccine if it is healthy, if it is of proper age to be vaccinated (3 months and older), and if it hasn’t had the rabies shot already. The rabies vaccine does not cure rabies nor get rid of some inborn rabies toxin, as many Filipino pet owners mistakenly believe. The rabies vaccine protects a vaccinated dog from becoming infected if it ever is bitten by a rabid animal. Read about Common Misconceptions About Rabies In Puppies.

Q: Should I be worried? Am I going to get rabies from the puppy bite?

A: It is difficult to answer the question with one absolute answer, especially because there are so many factors to consider:

Why did the puppy bite?
Is the puppy healthy?
Has the puppy been vaccinated against rabies?
Does the puppy roam outside?
Has the puppy recently been bitten by another animal (a dog, a cat, a rat, etc.)
How severe is the wound? etc., etc.

A vet and medical doctor needs to know the answers to these questions because they provide important information about the seriousness of the bite wound and the risk of infection in the puppy and risk to the patient.

Q: Can you clip our puppy’s teeth so we can prevent him from biting us again?

A: No. Puppies change teeth at around 5 months of age at which point the sharper teeth are replaced by the duller permanent set of teeth. Clipping your puppy’s teeth can be painful and result in infections. You can prevent puppy bites from happening by teaching your puppy bite inhibition, and by redirecting the puppy biting to appropriate activities or structured play with toys.

Q: Do you think our puppy could have rabies?

A: Puppies kept indoors and that have no interaction with other animals are unlikely to have contracted rabies, because rabies is generally contracted through bites from infected animals. If your puppy is showing any signs of illness (lethargic, inappetent, poor body condition, changes in behavior, etc.) take your puppy to the vet immediately to be examined.

Q: Why does our puppy bite?

A: Puppy biting and nipping is normal. It should not surprise you that your puppy bites because the fact is puppies do not have hands with which to explore and interact with the world so they use their mouth and their teeth. However, you can teach your puppy to regulate the strength of its bite by teaching it bite inhibition, and play with your puppy using toys instead of just your hands so your puppy learns that these are the proper things to chew and nibble on. Read more on Solutions for Puppy Biting.


  1. Anonymous

    Hi, i have just been bitten by a 1-2 month old puppy today. The bite is more of a little scratch with 2 little punctures in my finger. I have washed the wound thoroughly and applied 70% solution ethyl alcohol. The puppy haven’t been vaccinated with anti-rabies as she’s too young for the shot, but she’s clean, healthy, stays inside home (or in her cage), and is put in a leash when going out for a walk. I was a little concerned about the bite so went to the hospital but they are charging me a fortune for the anti-rabies shots! The nurse who attended me took my weight, then told me i would need 5 vials of anti-rabies which would cost Php26,000 at the very least!! And they have not even asked the circumstances surrounding the bite as you described above in your article. Im confident that the puppy is rabies free given my descriptions above of the dog. But as im not a medical professional i have worries at the back of my mind. And i don’t have Php26,000 for the anti-rabies shots! Hope you can give me some advise. I would really appreciate if you can email me at

    Thank you sou much!

  2. Marose Magpily, DVM

    Anonymous, I sent you an e-mail with information. I hope you found my advise useful.

    1. Anonymous

      Hi! i have the same story with ms/mr. anonymous. I have just bitten by my 2month old dalmatian puppy today while I was introducing her vitamins. She got annoyed and surprisingly she snaps and bit on my thumb. There is no visible wound nor stingy sensation when i washed it thoroughly with soap and applied alcohol on it but her fangs marked on my skin. And it hurts. I had a rabies vaccination before around year 2007 and supposedly i have to have my booster year 2010 but i wasn’t able to have it. I nurse the pup ever since she was born because her mother was not capable of nursing her pups. And my pup stays at home and put her on a cage whenever I’m out and have something to do. She’s separated from other dogs but my cat scratched her once. I feel that my pup is safe but still worrying won’t stop me. And with the previous shot i had, i know how much expensive it is. Could you please send me some advise?.. thank you much and here is my email

      Thanks and Godbless!

  3. Anonymous

    Hi.i was also bitten 4 days ago by a 2 month old puppy. Our puppy is also clean.and stays indoor.can u pls advise me if i need to see a doctor?

    1. Marose Magpily, DVM

      Please consider the following article that I found

      It discusses babies bitten by dogs/puppies but is as informative for adult bite victims as well. Also mentioned in the article are some local hospitals that you may consider visiting where you might receive a thorough evaluation of your bite. PLEASE NOTE, I cannot advise whether or not you should go see a doctor.

      * As mentioned in the article you should observe the puppy for 14 days for any signs of disease. A puppy with rabies will show signs of illness within two weeks of being infected with the rabies virus. If your puppy gets sick during this time, that increases the potential for infection with rabies. But bear in mind, puppies are prone to many other diseases so if the puppy were to get sick the best thing to do would be to have a veterinarian assess the pups medical condition.

      * In case of the puppy’s death during the 2 week time period, transport the puppy’s remains to the Bureau of Animal Industries along Visayas Ave., Quezon City or any other national rabies center in your vicinity. They have tests to determine whether the puppy died of rabies infection.

      As mentioned, I can’t give a definitive answer as to what exactly you should do because I am not a medical doctor and because I don’t know the details surrounding the bite incident. But I hope this information will prove helpful to your circumstances.

  4. Anonymous

    Hi, I’ve been grazed by my puppy’s teeth accidentally. He didn’t bite me per se just grazed it. It’s more of a surface scratch basically and it drew blood. The amount of blood was barely a drop and I got injected for the post-exposure treatment. I’m not that worried about myself since I got the shots done but I am a bit nervous for my pup. My pup is a male Siberian Husky at 3 months and 8 days old. He has shots for rabies and mostly everything else except for the heartworm prevention. My pup stays indoors and hasn’t been bitten by any other animal. He doesn’t look weakened or anything. He still has the same appetite and is as energetic as usual. Do I have anything to worry about? I called my vet and she says my pup will be okay considering he had his shots done but a second opinion from another vet will be of great help to my frazzled nerves.


    1. Marose Magpily

      Hi, Sheela! Sorry, I missed reading this comment or I would have replied sooner. It sounds like you take very good care of your puppy and that he’s in good health, so I don’t think you have anything to worry about when it comes to him being infected with anything at the moment. Please be sure to get the heartworm prevention for him as soon as possible because it is a very prevalent disease in the Philippines and the preventative is definitely cheaper compared to what you would spend if he were to contract heartworm.

  5. Anonymous

    Hi. While carrying my hyperactive half askal half chow chow puppy, it accidentally grazed my lips with its teeth. It didnt cause any wound. But after a day, i feel my lips are sort of feeling “nangangapal”, but not actually looking swollen, but im still worried. I think my puppy is healthy, his appetite is always good and he has a leash whenever we go out for a walk. He is 3 mos. old now and he still doesnt have gotten any shots. Should i be worried already?

  6. Anonymous

    Hi. While carrying my hyperactive half askal half chow chow puppy, it accidentally grazed my lips with its teeth. It didnt cause any wound. But after a day, i feel my lips are sort of feeling “nangangapal”, but not actually looking swollen, but im still worried. I think my puppy is healthy, his appetite is always good and he has a leash whenever we go out for a walk. He is 3 mos. old now and he still doesnt have gotten any shots. Should i be worried already?

    1. Marose Magpily

      Hi there! The severity of the bite/scratch should be assessed by a doctor (an M.D.). Observe your puppy for 10 days for any signs of illness. If your puppy gets sick during this time period it is very important for you to seek veterinary and medical advice.

  7. Karen

    Hi Doc, I had been scratched by my puppy 14 days ago when he tried to playfully bit my hand and so far he is still very healthy and have no signs of rabies at all. Should I be worried? I didn’t consult any clinic thinking they would just milk money from my pocket and I am almost sure the puppy doesn’t have rabies (never goes out at all). However, the mom who is a labrador-mix always goes out of our gate to mingle with other dogs. Until now, even the dam is still very healthy and have no signs of rabies. I’m planning to get an anti-tetanus shot soon. Can my dogs possibly have/had rabies even if they didn’t die 14 days after the bite incident? I hope you could help me.

  8. Anshe

    HI! I just finished my post exposure prophylaxis 2 months ago, and I got bitten by my 2(?) months old puppy.(actually im not sure if the scratch was caused by my puppy). Do you happen to know if its okay to not get another series of shot since I just got vaccinated? thank you!

  9. Anonymous

    hello.. i have a dog w/c is 4 months old and she have bitten my father almost a month ago .. she’s running after a chicken when the bite happened. i had observed her and she’s fine. is there a tendency to have rabies infection? my father was vaccinated w/ anti tetanus months before the bite. i keep worrying. please send me an advice @

  10. CJ.Floreno

    I’m really happy to have found this blog [I bookmarked it right away]. I just got my new puppy. He’s 6 weeks old and a Schweenie [shih tzu x dashchund]. I understand that he can have his rabies vaccine after 13 weeks. Is it safe to say that he is rabies free right now? He stays at home and we never let him out. My mom said that if the pup lick any open wounds or bite us we will get rabies. I also have 2 kids who love to play with him. Just want to get answers from someone who knows about this stuff. I don’t want to be scared of my pup because of some Old Wive’s tales. Hope to hear from you soon or you can email me @

  11. Anonymous

    Hi last mOnth my pup bit me..i seek consultation and the doctor ordered anti tetanus shot and five shots of anti rabies shot for 1 mOnth..i had the first 2 shots but i got lazy going to the hospital so i didn’t get my last 3 my first question is will there be any side effects if i didn’t finish my shots? Then 2 days ago my pup bit me again in the face he’s just playing and he just want to lick my face but got carried away and scratched my face with his tooth..its just a graze near my eye and i “pinilit ko lang paduguin” so it shed a drop or two..i didn’t seek consultation since i’m pretty sure he doesn’t have rabies but now i’m having flu-like symptoms (colds and cough).. I’ve read that the first sign of rabies are flu like symptoms..but i was caught in the rain yesterday and checked in in a hotel (na sobrang lamig) so i was thinking it was just because of that..My second question is should i be worried or should i quarantined again my pup?btw he ia now 4mos old and his vet told us we should finish the 5in1 vax first before giving him the anti rabies shot so he doesn’t have anti rabies as of the moment..your advise will be greatly appreciated..Pls email me in

  12. mayrose

    I took my 3mos pom to a vet today bcoz it vomits everytime i feed him and had diarhia. The vet asked me to hold its head while he injects. I was so scared and told the vet what if it bite me. While i was trying to hold my pet, the vet suddenly injected it, caused it to bit me three times on my hand and finger maybe because of pain it felt. The vet told me to wash my wounds with soap in running water for five minutes and that i shouldn’t worry. my pet hasn’t given anti rabies yet. Do i have the right to complain? It was my first visit to a vet and also first time to have a pet. I’mvery much scared. Can i trust the vet? Thanx.

  13. Mark of Calamba

    Hi I would like to ask an expert opinion. I have 2 months ols Shih Tzu puppy. When he is trying to eat something my younger sibling(11yrs.old) tried to get that thing and suddenly it cause to grazed his right thumb. That was afternoon of 12Dec2012, we visit the bite Center Morning(13Dec2012)and medical doctor advised that it was Category 3. It was a very small graze. They advising us to go back for another 4 shots of deltoid. The first vacation today are Deltoid, beriras toxoid, tetesam veroras ( i dont know if that the right Spelling)
    My dog is a very clean puppy, eats very clean dog foods and my puppy is still very active and normal. Shall I wait 3-5 days to monitor my dog. I am so worried to my younger sister. Looking for your advice.

  14. Anonymous

    Hi..i have a 3months old shih tzu and he scratch my mom and aunties hand theres a little shih tzu already have 2x vaccinated and the next 5in1 shot is tomorrow..should i worry about this??my puppy is always indoor..hope anyone could help me..

  15. Anonymous

    Hi my 3 month chow chow bit me in my foot and a little part of my skin was torn and the skin is red but no blood what should i do?

  16. Anonymous

    hi..i would like to mother was bit by our puppy a year ago and never sick consultation from a it ok to administer the anti rabies vaccine even if it is a year ago??that was supposed to be given as soon as possible after she was bit??

    i hope to receive answers from you..i am really worried after she told me today.
    thank you very much..

  17. Jimwell John Balatero

    Hi, It’s been a month since I got bitten by my puppy(3mnth). She was just play-biting when she puts her mouth in my leg and I immediately pull it and makes Her left canine tooth inserted in my skin and the tooth broken and the wound was bleeding. I’m pretty sure that my puppy has not been in contact with other dogs since she doesn’t go out(she was afraid of others). And nothing really happened in me and the puppy in the following days after the incident.
    I was worried if I have to go for anti-rabies shots and It has been 1 month since it happened.
    What made me worry is that a friend of mine told me that someone got diagnosed with rabies after 3 months after got bitten. Something the same of what I did, I did not have anti-rabies shot after the incident.
    I want to enlighten my mind and make sure that I’m safe about this issue.
    I hope you can give me some words or advice about this thru my email,
    Thank you very much.

  18. Anonymous

    hello! i am not sure if my dog bit me when he was playing with my pants. i just felt his teeth touched my skin; there was no blood but it looked like it’s swollen (pimple-size). there’s no sign of teeth inserted though. he is 5 months old, vaccinated. i do not know if i still need to get anti-rabies shots or observe him first. please help..
    thank you.

  19. Anonymous

    good day to all! i was bitten by my friend’s dog 6 months ago because I accidentally stepped on him, the dog has no record of vaccination, the dog is still healthy when I visited him last week, do I need to get shots? the owner and I doesn’t have any finances to take the shots because its expensive.

  20. Anonymous

    Hi, we have a puppy and I think she’s almost 3 months old but we just released her from her cage earlier so she can roam around our backyard but I was very lightly scratched by one of her nails while she was playing (but she’s very well behaved and have no contact with any other animals). I immediately washed it with germicidal soap and water (but it wasn’t 5-minutes long I think) and then put some isopropyl alcohol afterwards. I’m kind of freaking out now although the scratch did not break my skin, I guess, since the pinkish line is already gone now. But can you please enlighten me as to what I should do? Thank you so much, doc.

  21. Anonymous

    Good day, our puppy that was bought from the market(wet) bite our chicken that wanted to share her food. The chicken died after 4days. I’m still playing with her(dog) after the incident and noticed she acted so strange and sometimes I saw her mouth with foamed saliva. I’m worried if she has rabies because I’m still playing with her on the 3rd day she bit the chicken and I remember she’s licking on my wounded finger every time I gave her a price. Please let me know what to do? This is my accounts /….. Thank you

  22. Mae Calicdan

    Hi, I have a 4 months old pup. She’s playful and active. She scratched me on my leg. She stays indoor. But she has a skin allergy, so up to she’s medicating. She had her first vaccine last August 28,2013, and she’ll be having an appointment with her vet on sept 28. Do i still have to see a doctor? Please reply asap

  23. Anonymous

    Hi, i barely punctured my finger onto my 2 month old puppy on his tooth, it doesn’t bleed at all but after a week the puppy died? it’s been 2 weeks since it happens. does it mean that the puppy is infected by rabies? the puppy doesn’t get any vaccination.

    do i need to take an anti-rabies shots? it’s too expensive that’s why i’m asking you if do i still need to take it.

    Thanks so much. God Bless!

    1. Marose Magpily

      Please consult a medical doctor for advice on whether or not you need post-exposure shots. If there is a local Bureau of Animal Industries office in your area, you should contact them to ask about how you can get the remains of the puppy examined to determine if it died from rabies. Your city veterinarian may also have that information.

  24. Oland Andig

    My daughter (3 y/o) was playfully bitten by our Shih Tzu (2 months so non vaccinated yet) yesterday, no wounds at all just a scratch. I am worried about the rabies thing since this is the first time for us having a pet. Am I just paranoid or should I bring my daughter to the doctor? The puppy looks healthy and no sign of rabies. The original owner also claimed that their sons was been playfully bitten many times by their puppies. Please advice.

    1. Marose Magpily

      If you are absolutely sure there are no wounds then I don’t think you have anything to worry about, but you may want to ask a medical doctor just in case. Please always supervise your daughter’s interactions with your dog, especially if you haven’t yet trained for bite inhibition.

  25. Anonymous

    i got myself bitten today by my 2 mo. old husky on my arm and it punctured deep . There were a lot of blood that when i tried to pinch all the blood out before washing and putting alcohol on it. should i observe for a couple of days days first before seeking help from a M.D. or should i look for medical advice right away? please email or reply here thanks.

  26. Unknown

    Hi. We have a 2 month old puppy thats very healthy but hasnt had her rabies vaccine yet. She was being fed by my bf and probably got really excited so she accidentally bit him.. There were 2 punctures on the wound and he immediately washed it with running water and poured alcohol over it. Is there any possibility that they both get infected with rabies?

  27. raju singh

    got myself bitten today by my 2 mo. old husky on my arm and it punctured deep . There were a lot of blood that when i tried to pinch all the blood out before washing and putting alcohol on it. should i observe for a couple of days days first before seeking help from a M.D. or should i look for medical advice right away? please email or reply here thanks.


  28. Anonymous

    Thank you for this article. It supports my argument with my niece. Dogs are not born with rabies. Her 2 month old puppy accidentally bit her husbands fingers. I told her not to worry since her puppy stays indoors and its normal for dogs to playfully bite you.

  29. Mickie Perez

    Hi. I have a 2 month old shih tzu. we’re playing he’s chasing me and accidentally had gaze, and im not sure if it his tooth or nails. He had undergone 3 vaccines already, he’s in our house always clean. Im kinda worrid about me. am i infected?? the blood from the wound is really small amount only. and its really not a bite actually, 1 scar only. but im not sure if its his nails or tooth. Please advise. my email is hoping for your response. thank youuu

  30. Anonymous

    Hi, My 9 week old Shihtzu just bit my hand and it bled a little. She is always inside our house and has not been bitten by other stray animals. Should I get worried for rabies?

  31. Dolor Bengco

    hello, my 6 years old daugther was bitten by our 2 months old puppy.the puppy was shot for anti rabies last March 25, 2014 and he bit my daughter ear last April 6, 2014. it bled and they were just playing when the it accidentally bit her. what should I do?

  32. Anonymous

    Hi, my 9 year old son was bitten by our 3 month old shih tsu while they are playing.. It bled a little. We we’re about to go to her vet for a anti-rabies shot when it happened. Should I get worried of rabies?

  33. Bea Vergara

    Hi I have a little scratch on my hand and my 4 month old puppy accidentally licked it. She has no anti rabies shot yet. Should I go get vaccinated?

  34. Anonymous

    Hi. I got bit by my 2 month old great dane. It is small scratch near my ankle. I didn’t feel any pain at first but about 30 minutes later I felt some pain and I saw myself bleeding. I cleaned it with a disinfectant and i pressed the area to squeeze out some more blood. A bit of water came out as well.
    My puppy’s mom was completely vaccinated and my puppy has also been vaccinated once. Do I have any reason to get scared about rabies and get vaccinated?

  35. Anonymous

    Hi, i was playing with my 1month and 2 week old lab x husky and accidentally her tooth scratched my ear and drew a little blood. My pup was always indoor. And she just go out for poop time or pee time. Should i be worried?

  36. Myrrh Salomon

    I got bit by a 2-3 month old puppy ( I don’t really know but he’s around 3 months now) 3 weeks ago and got my 1st three shots ( 4 shots all). The last one was on aug.22, 2014 and the last one will be on sept 15, 2014. The puppy hasn’t got its vaccinations yet. I got bit by the puppy again 3 days ago. It had this mark, it’s not deep but it didn’t drew blood no matter how I press it and I didn’t feel that weird tingly hurting feeling when you put alcohol to it. It felt nothing but I did feel it bit me. The wound doesn’t hurt, don’t feel numbness, no tingly feeling on the wound and the pup is okay. What should I do? Should I get another set of sessions again and do the 4 shots again? Please do reply as soon as possible and give me an advice on what to do Q^Q

  37. Anonymous

    hello i was bitten by my 2 mo old puppy while i was playing with them im not sure who among the three bit me they are clean puppies and never mingled with stray dogs just with the other dogs in my house. please reply if i am prone to rabies or not. it is very expensive 🙁


  38. Pingback: “My Puppy Bites! My Puppy Chews!” | Pet Centrics

  39. Liezel

    Hi my shih tzu is 4months old and was just vaccinated by anti rabies this morning, this afternoon my 4year old daughter was bitten by my dog while they were playing. It didnt bleed but it was scratch and have tWo marks from the biting teeth. I poured alcohol, then agua oxinada then betadine. Should I be worried and get my daughter vaccinated tomorrow? Please advise.

    1. Marose Magpily, DVM (Post author)

      It would be inappropriate for me, as a vet, to assess the severity of your daughter’s bite wound or make suggestions regarding the required medical treatment. Please consult a medical doctor regarding this. Your vet and/or doctor may advise to keep your dog under observation for at least 10 days. If the puppy shows any signs of illness during this time please consult with your veterinarian and inform your doctor of the vet’s findings.


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