Rabies is one of the deadliest and fatal diseases to ever exist in a mammal, but it is also 100% preventable. Cats, dogs, humans and all other species of mammals can get affected by rabies.
This scary, viral disease is transmitted through the blood or saliva of one mammal to another. Dogs usually get rabies when they come in contact with an infected animal, mostly via a bite or a scratch. Once you catch rabies, there is no cure (that has yet been discovered). The disease will only end in fatality, so the real job is to ensure complete protection and prevention of the illness.
At DhohOo, we believe in doing everything we can to keep pets safe. Hence, in this blog, we shall talk about rabies, symptoms of rabies and give you prevention guidelines on how to protect your dog from rabies. We will also shed light on the general symptoms of the disease and how you can take care of it if it is infected with rabies.
What is Rabies?
Rabies is an infectious disease that occurs in mammals and affects their central nervous system. It can infect any warm-blooded animal, including humans. Rabies can spread if you come into contact with the saliva or blood of an animal that is already infected with the disease. It can transfer through bites, scratches or anytime the infected saliva or blood comes in contact with any open wounds or mucous membranes.
If your pet comes into contact with wild animals, there is a higher risk of your pet catching rabies. Animals like raccoons, bats, foxes and skunks are the most popular carriers of the disease, and it is best to keep away from them to protect your dog from rabies.
Symptoms of Rabies in Dogs
Some common, vague symptoms of rabies in the initial stages are:
- High temperatures
- Flu-like symptoms
- Constant licking/biting/chewing
When the disease reaches the nervous system and eventually, the brain, the symptoms start getting more serious. Your dog might experience:
- Hypersensitivity to sound, touch and light
- Unusual eating habits
- Throat and jaw muscles paralyzed
- Foaming on the corner of the mouth
- Paralysis of hind legs
- Loss of appetite
- Respiratory failure
Types of Rabies
1. Encephalitic Rabies
In the Encephalitic form, animals experience throbbing pharyngeal spasms (contractions) when exposed to water or air. At this stage of the disease, symptoms of hyperventilation, hallucinations, hypersensitivity, excessive salivation, fever, seizures, insomnia and fluctuating consciousness begin to show.
2. Paralytic Rabies
When the disease reaches the Paralytic stage, animals start experiencing weakness in their muscle, lose their sensations and go into a state of paralysis. They may also experience lack of sensations, bladder dysfunctions and weakness of the limbs along with consistent fever.
How to Protect Your Dog From Rabies – A Prevention Guide
Millions of animals get affected by rabies every year all around the world. Approximately 5,000 cases of rabies are reported each year in the United States. The good news is that 90% of those are wild animals. In 2018, a report showed that only 60 to 70 domestic dogs and around 250 domestic cats were infected by rabies in the entire country.
However, this decline does not mean that you stop taking precautions. As a pet owner, you must keep yourself familiar with the disease and its symptoms and do everything in your power to protect your dog from rabies.
The remaining section discusses how to protect your dog from rabies and keep it safe from this dangerous disease:
1. Limiting Outdoor Exposure
Since rabies is most common amongst wild animals, it is essential that you, as a pet owner, keep an eye on your dog. Install safety equipment to prevent wild intruders like raccoons and other stray animals from entering your yard. If you take your dog out for a walk or on a play date, make sure that other animals that your dog interacts with are not infected.
2. Vaccinating Your Dog
You must start getting your dog vaccinated as early as 12 weeks of age. Rabies vaccinations are extremely inexpensive and are also provided free of cost at many animal shelters. These vaccinations protect your dog from rabies so if a wild skunk or raccoon ever bites it, it will be spared from catching the deadly disease. Vaccinate your canine friend as soon as it turns 12 weeks of age. Get a booster rabies shot 1 year after the first shot and then after every 3 years to ensure your pet stays protected.
3. Watch For Signs/Symptoms
If you observe changes in your pet’s personality or behavior, take it seriously. Check your pet’s body for any bites, scratch marks, or open wounds. If your dog starts experiencing one or more symptoms of rabies, take it to a vet or a local animal hospital immediately.
4. Consult Your Vet
If another animal bites your pet, you must take it to the vet immediately. You need to report any bites or scratches to your vet immediately and monitor your dog's health. If the animal that bit your dog was domestic, you must ask its owner for proof of rabies vaccination to make sure your dog is safe.
If your dog bites another animal, wild or domestic, take it to your vet for a checkup and provide proof of vaccination that your pet does not have rabies. You will not be liable if the bitten animal somehow catches the disease.
Even though it is now rare, rabies is a deadly and fatal disease. It is painful to see your dog experiencing the torturous symptoms of the disease. Until a cure is developed, make sure you are taking all the necessary steps to protect your dog from rabies to prevent any tragedies from occurring in your household.