How long an unvaccinated dog stays in quarantine for rabies depends on the circumstances of the bite and the laws of your state or town. If your dog must be kept in quarantine, it's possible it can be done at home. Otherwise, he must stay -- at your expense -- in an approved facility for the time period.
While your dog should be kept current on all vaccinations, in most jurisdictions rabies shots are required by law. That's because rabies is a fatal disease, transmitted by saliva and animal bites. There's no cure for the disease, although people bitten by a rabid animal can receive preventative shots.
The only positive test for rabies consists of examining a dead animal's brain tissue. Since you obviously don't want health officials euthanizing your dog for examination, quarantine is an effective compromise.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that dogs with a healthy appearance at the time they bit someone can be confined by their owner for a 10-day observation period. "No person in the United States has ever contracted rabies from a dog, cat or ferret held in quarantine for 10 days," the CDC notes.
If a wild animal bites your dog and your dog isn't current with his rabies vaccination, he might have to endure up to six months in quarantine, depending on state law. It's also likely the quarantine must be done at an animal-control or veterinary facility, rather than at home.
By Jane Meggitt
About the Author
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.