Q. Can rabies be transmitted through dog's saliva?

Answered by
Dr. Muhammad Zubayer Alam
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Apr 07, 2021

Hi doctor,

I had an interaction with a stray dog, and it seemed fine, but I had some suspicion about it potentially having rabies. It did not bite or scratch me, but I worry that some small amount of saliva got into and I have some unknown tiny cut. The dog had a microchip and was later brought home. It did not seem to exhibit any signs of rabies, except that it did not drink any of the water we put out.



Welcome to

I can understand your concern. According to your statement, you have a history of tiny scratches by a stray dog. Though the dog has an owner and its owner brought it, there is no vaccination history. Even if it is fully vaccinated, the dog has a history of the homeless and lacking an owner and stay in the street. So there is a chance of getting infected by rabies. Rabies has no treatment if it has already been started. So, it will be a wise decision for you to get the post-exposure vaccination according to the current schedule as you have a history of tiny scratches and breakage of skin. Rabies containing infected saliva may enter into your bloodstream if there is a history of mild bleeding. And the most important thing is the dog was staying on the street for several days. So get the post-exposure vaccination. It will be a safeguard for preventing any chance of further complications.

Thank you doctor,

It did not scratch me or anything, and I am just worried that its saliva got into the pre-existing cuts in a way that I may not have been aware of.



Welcome back to

I have mentioned all the possible ways of entry of saliva into your body. It may be a fresh wound or an old wound, but saliva can enter into our body by any pre-existing cuts or unknown tiny scratch. Any type of previous skin breakage may help saliva to enter our body. I have tried to mention the possibility of unnoticed cut injury, tiny scratches, or skin breakage present in our body. As rabies has no treatment when it has already been started, so prevention is better than cure. And post-exposure vaccination will ensure the prevention of rabies infection in the near future. So, where there is doubt, it will be better for everyone to take necessary steps for prevention like post-exposure prophylaxis for rabies infection.

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