Yes, a veterinarian should perform a complete physical exam. Even a small bite wound could be the start of something much bigger.
Painful animals or ones that might be hurting or stressed need to be handled very carefully. Animals that are normally very sweet, under stressful circumstances, may bite their owners and a muzzle might be required. Place your pet in a carrier or wrap the pet in a blanket to bring them to the vet’s office.
Get as much information as you can about the animal that attacked your pet. If the animal was an owned animal, get their medical history and proof of a rabies vaccination. Contact your local animal shelter or police if you wish to pursue legal action. If the animal who attacked yours was a wild animal, contact your local animal shelter to report the attack and let them follow up for rabies testing on that animal, if possible.
If your pet is current on their rabies vaccine and bitten by an animal known to carry rabies – bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, coyotes – they should be revaccinated immediately and monitored. The potentially rabid animal should be handled by the animal shelter as well.
If your pet is past due for a rabies vaccine and is bitten by a potentially rabid animal, your pet needs to be taken to the veterinarian immediately and the animal control officials called. The animal will need to either be quarantined for 6 months or euthanatized and tested for rabies. This will be determined by the health official in North Carolina.
If your pet has never received a rabies vaccine and is bitten by a potentially rabid animal, immediate euthanasia and testing is indicated. If you are unwilling to do this, your pet may be quarantined in strict isolation for 6 months.
#1 is to keep your pet current on their rabies vaccine. In addition, keep your pet on a leash or make sure you know where they are at all times. Be aware of your pet’s response to other animals, especially wildlife and be prepared. Remove the animal if possible before a conflict occurs.