Rabies is defined as an incurable virus that attacks the brain and spinal cord. Rabies can be transmitted to all mammals, including dogs and humans. It is preventable as well as treatable if it had been caught early on. If any symptoms ofthis will appear, the virus will be fatal.

How do Dogs Get Rabies

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Rabies can be found in saliva, therefore, the most common way of infection is through the bite wound from an infected animal. Once a bite has broken the skin, the virus can make its way through and into the bloodstream. If an infected animal licks an open wound, the virus has a possibility of being transmitted. 

While it is possible for pets to pass around rabies, dogs generally get rabies from exposure various wild animals, including foxes, bats and raccoons. There are around 500 cases are reported in domestic pets such as dogs, cats and ferrets. It is not as common in the United States as it is preventable through vaccinations. 

The Symptoms of Rabies

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In the event that your dog has been bitten by another animal it’s best to observe your dog over a period of time and call your vet immediately in case of any behavioural changes and if you suspect rabies. 

If your dog has rabies they may become very restless and irritable and even show aggression. It isn’t uncommon for rabid animals to be uncharacteristically affectionate. Other times if your dog is oftentimes excited and happy, they may suddenly seem relaxed and uninterested. 

The physical symptoms of rabies in dogs include:

  • Fever
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Staggering
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis

As the rabies virus progresses, your dog may seem as if they are overstimulated. This means that lights, movement and sound may have a negative effect on your dog. In these cases your dog might seek out a dark and quiet place to hide out in, or begin acting aggressively.

The most well-known symptom in dogs is foaming at the mouth. Not all dogs foam at the mouth, they might display excessive saliva or drooling. Once rabies has reached its final stages, seizures, as well as paralysis, aren’t uncommon. When a dog reaches this stage they are unable to control their muscles, especially in the neck and throat. This can make swallowing very difficult. Towards the end, breathing becomes impossible which results in death. 

It can take several weeks for your dog to display symptoms after infection. In most cases, dogs develop symptoms within 21 to 80 days after exposure. However, the incubation period can either be shorter or longer. Once symptoms of rabies arise, the virus can no longer be treated. Therefore, it is best to inform your vet as soon as your dog has been bitten to prevent the virus from spreading. 

How is Rabies Diagnosed and Treated

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A blood test is unable to for an early diagnosis. In order to be 100% accurate, a biopsy of the brain tissue needs to be taken and tested, therefore, it cannot be done until the animal has passed away. Once symtoms of rabies start, it is impossible to treat. Unfortunately, if your vet suspects that your dog has this, your dog will need to be euthanized. This is to prevent your dog from spreading the virus. 

If a wild animal has bitten your dog, a booster of the rabies vaccine will be given to try and lessen the chances of your dog contracting the virus. 

How to Prevent Rabies

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Vaccinations on schedule is the best way to prevent your dog from contracting this. It is law in many states for dogs to have received the vaccine. This vaccine will help your dog in more ways than one. Vaccination won’t only protect your dog from this, but it will act as protection if your dog bites someone. This is because the first question someone will ask if your dog has bitten them or their animal is if your dog has received their vaccines. 

Once you are able to prove that your dog has had the rabies vaccine, you and the other person can be sure there is no chance of rabies being transmitted. However, quarantine or in worst cases euthanization may take place because of the possible threat of rabies. If your dog has bitten someone, they might be required to spend time in quarantine for up to 10 days to see if any symptoms develop. 

Avoiding contact with wild animals is another way to prevent rabies. Ensure that you always walk your dog in familiar areas, and that your dog is on a leash. If a dog roams freely, they are more likely to come into contact with a wild animal and get bitten. 

What to do if a Rabid Animal Approaches

If you’re approached by a wild animal that seems to have rabies, avoid the animal at all costs and contact your local health department or animal control. It is imperative that you do not try and trap the animal yourself, rather keep your distance, warn those nearby and alert the authorities. Trained professionals will be able to handle the situation. 

What to do if your Dog Had Been in Contact with a Potentially Rabid Animal

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Your first step is phoning your vet and have them examine the wound and begin treatment. Your vet could give your dog a booster to update the vaccination as well as clean the wound to prevent infection. 

Your vet would need to phone the local health department and file a report as well. This is so that the animal in question can not be located and removed from the area to prevent it from causing harm to other animals.

Remember that if your dog has been bitten, you can catch rabies from the wound. Therefore it’s best to not touch or clean the wound without using disposable gloves. 

In a Nutshell

This is preventable, yet incurable disease. Always ensure that your dog’s vaccines is up to date. Avoid areas in which wild animals are common to prevent the chances of your dog contracting rabies.