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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16732
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Not sure if this is the place to ask, however its a start.

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Not sure if this is the place to ask, however it's a start. My dog got into a fight with a woodchuck a day ago. She does not appear to have any wounds etc. Later that day as we were having dinner, I got up to answer the phone. The dog jumped up and ate some food off my plate, unbeknownst to me. I sat back down and finished my dinner. As I got up, one of my roommates burst out laughing. They decided not to tell me the dog had eaten off my plate.

I'm just wondering about rabies exposure with the dogs saliva having possibly come into contact with the woodchucks, then transferring it to my food? I have no idea if the woodchuck was rabid. I have not seen it since. I did not witness the confrontation either.

Just wanted to get an expert opinion before I did anything.

Thank you for your time,


Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help with your concerns about your dog's exposure to a wood chuck and then you eating food that she had licked.

There are several reasons that it is very unlikely you have been exposed to or may become infected with Rabies.

Woodchucks are not a species that is commonly infected with Rabies. When they do become infected they usually die pretty quickly and are unlikely to be healthy enough long enough to expose other animals.

Rabies is a very slow growing and reproducing virus. When an animal is bitten the virus needs to travel through tissue along nerves and make its way to the salivary glands, reproduce there, and then be released in the saliva. That cannot possibly happen within 24 hours.

Rabies is a virus that does not live outside the body for very long. The infected saliva needs to be injected into tissue via a bite. The virus sitting on food and then being eaten and exposed to stomach acid would kill the virus.

I can understand that you are concerned, and you may want to call your physician for reassurance, but on a microbiology level I don't believe that you had any exposure.

If your dog is current on her vaccination for Rabies then it is even more unlikely that any exposure occurred.

You do want to confine your dog for at least 2 weeks to watch for any symptoms. You may wish to revaccinate her now for Rabies just as a precaution if she is current on her vaccine for Rabies, or at the end of her confinement if she isn't current on her Rabies vaccine.

Best of luck with your pup, I hope this information helps.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

She is up on her vaccine. I think she needs a booster next year. I guess I was really more concerned about the woodchucks actual saliva itself being on Jeenie's fur, mouth, etc and being transferred to my food. But the encounter occurred several hours before we ate; and you mentioned the virus doesn't survive long outside the body. Is that an accurate statement?

Thanks for the clarification of your concerns.

I would not be at all concerned about the virus from the woodchuck's saliva still being alive on her coat several hours later. The virus, even if originally present in the woodchuck's saliva, would have been long dead.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I don't think I would have been worried at all, but there was a PSA sort of article in the paper not too long ago about rabid animals and what to do to avoid them.


Thank you very much for your time. Excellent service! :)

I understand that those PSA's can sometimes get people overly concerned. The big concern with Rabies is that it is almost impossible to treat in people once it gets to a certain point and that you may not realize that you were bitten or scratched and contracted it until too late. They are trying to get people to avoid direct contact with wild animals, which should be the real message.

In your case with your history there are no worries.

Dr. Kara and other Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. Kara