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Can you get rabies if a dog licks you? (mouth, lips, wound)

Can you get rabies if a dog licks you? (mouth, lips, wound)

We often don’t perceive dogs as being dangerous. Many of us believe that dogs only pose a danger to intruders and other would-be criminals. As long as you don’t threaten a dog, their offspring, or their owner, the belief held by many is that nothing will go wrong.

Interactions with pet dogs do often turn out pleasantly. However, you should be more guarded around a stray or wild dog because you don’t know what could be present inside their body. To be more specific, you shouldn’t disregard the threat of rabies.

You may think that contracting rabies is only possible if you’re bit by an infected animal, but that’s not the case. Stay tuned to learn more about how rabies can spread from a dog to you and what you can do to prevent it.

Can You Get Rabies if a Dog Licks You?

A lot of people are afraid of being bitten by a dog and understandably so. Dog bites hurt a lot. On top of that, getting bit by a dog also means you could potentially contract rabies.

It’s true that dogs transmit rabies mostly through biting, but that’s not the only way you could get infected. Unfortunately, a seemingly harmless lick can actually turn out to be pretty dangerous.

The thing you need to keep in mind when it comes to the rabies virus is that it can spread through the saliva of an infected dog. The virus is already there in their saliva and it just spreads after it enters your body. A single lick from a dog with rabies can indeed infect you too.

However, there is also a good chance that you will be able to avoid infection even after a dog with rabies licks you. That’s because the saliva needs to enter your body in certain ways for it to pose a real threat.

Can You Get Rabies if a Dog Licks Your Lips or Mouth?

As we mentioned above, a dog can transmit the rabies virus via licking, but certain conditions have to be met for that to happen.

First off, the rabies virus needs to make its way into your body somehow. One way that could happen is if a dog licks openings on your body.

The openings in question include your eyes, mouth, and your nose. If the rabies virus manages to reach those parts of your body, then it has an easy pathway into your bloodstream. From there, the virus can spread and you could find yourself feeling very ill in a hurry.

Learning about that can be disappointing because many of us have this tendency to greet dogs by meeting them eye-to-eye. We kneel in front of them and let them shower us in kisses.

Letting a dog slobber all over your face is fine if it’s your pet or if you know they don’t have the virus. Don’t be so quick to welcome affection from a dog if you don’t know where they came from. That next kiss they land on your face could prove to be deadly so avoid it all costs.

Can You Get Rabies if a Dog Licks Your Wound?

We know that a dog can pass on the rabies virus via biting. We also know that they can transmit the virus if they lick your eyes, mouth, or nose.

So, are there other ways for a dog to infect you with rabies? Yes, there are other ways we haven’t mentioned yet. For instance, a dog can infect you if they lick an open wound on your body.

Ordinarily, a dog with rabies cannot infect you just by licking your hands or arms. There are usually no openings on those parts of your body so the virus has no spot to use as an entry point.

That all changes if you have an open wound.

The open wound is the entry point that the rabies virus needs to infect you. If the infected saliva gets in there, you are in serious trouble.

Also, note that an infected dog can pass the rabies virus to you via scratching. This is a rare occurrence, but it can happen if the dog was licking its paw just before it scratched your skin open.

Is There Rabies in Dog Saliva?

The rabies virus often enters the host body from an open wound caused by a bite. The virus may settle in the muscle for a while, but it will move to the brain eventually.

According to the CDC, the symptoms of a rabies infection are still not visible at this point even though the virus is already in the host body.

You should know that the virus does not reach the brain eventually. It may not reach the brain until weeks and possibly even months have passed.

Once the rabies virus is in the brain, it will cause all kinds of havoc in there. This is the time when the host starts manifesting the symptoms of a rabies infection.

After the virus finishes damaging the brain, it will head to the salivary glands. That’s the reason why the virus can be detected in an infected animal’s saliva.

The rabies virus follows a deadly path once it enters the body. Be vigilant against it because it can be a cruel and punishing virus.

Can You Get Rabies from Touching Saliva?

The rabies virus resides in the saliva of an infected dog. Does that mean that merely touching the saliva can already lead to an infected dog? Thankfully, that is not the case.

Unless you use your finger coated with rabies-infested saliva to touch your eyes, mouth, nose, or open wounds, you should still be fine. Just wash your hands thoroughly after making contact with the saliva to be certain that you’re safe.

If you’re uncertain if you were infected or not, there are some signs to watch for.


Developing a fever is a common symptom of a rabies infection. Monitor your temperature to see if it changes.


Your fever may also be accompanied by some vomiting. Don’t disregard this as a coincidence because the infection may already be taking hold.

Difficulty with Swallowing

One of the more distinctive symptoms of a rabies infection is experiencing difficulty while trying to swallow something. Even drinking water may be a nearly impossible task due to the complications of the infection.


Individuals infected with the rabies virus may also suffer from some form of paralysis. If the paralysis is brought about by a rabies infection, then it may not affect the whole body.


The rabies infection can also induce hallucinations in its victims. Those hallucinations are additional examples of how damaging to the brain the rabies virus is.