Learn how to stop and prevent spread rabies in dogs
Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral infection that attacks the brain and nervous system. Although all mammals are prone to it, rabies mainly affects carnivores, including dogs and bats. While rabies is a fatal infection, it is preventable. This article provides comprehensive information about the rabies virus, its transmission, symptoms, and prevention.
Transmission Of Rabies In Dogs
- Foxes, skunks, raccoons, and bats are familiar sources of infection in North America. However, stray dogs are the primary reservoirs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Human infections and fatalities commonly occur from the bite of an infected dog. The virus is secreted in the saliva of an infected animal and transmitted through a bite wound. The virus enters the body when a bite breaks the skin.
In addition, exposure of an open wound to the saliva of an infected animal also transmits the virus. Bats, raccoons, and other wild animals are the most common source of rabies virus transmission in dogs. About 500 cases of rabies are reported in pets each year. However, since it is 100% preventable by timely vaccination, rabies is not common in dogs in the U.S.
- The incubation period refers to the time until the clinical signs appear. The virus can stay in a dog’s body for several weeks before it begins to show symptoms. The incubation period can be much longer or shorter in different species, but most cases develop within 21 to 80 days after exposure to the rabies virus.
The speed at which the signs develop depends on the site of the bite, the severity of the bite, and the amount of virus entered through the bite. Rabies can’t be treated once it begins to show symptoms. Therefore, you must call your vet as soon as your dog gets bitten.
Symptoms Of Rabies
Pay particular attention to your dog’s behavior; if you suspect rabies in your dog, call a vet immediately.
- Infected dogs quickly become irritable and restless.
- Show signs of aggression.
- May become uncharacteristically affectionate.
- Lights, movements, and sounds can overstimulate and negatively affect the dog’s behavior.
- Physical signs include fever, seizures, excess drooling, difficulty swallowing, and paralysis.
- Foaming at the mouth.
Prevention Of Rabies
- Vaccinating your pet on schedule is the best way to prevent rabies. The vaccine helps your dog in several ways. It protects a dog from rabies and prevents the spread of infection if a dog bites someone. When a pet is vaccinated for rabies, there is no risk of virus transmission. However, the dog whose vaccination is not up to date has to be quarantined or even euthanized after exposure.
Another way to prevent rabies in dogs is by avoiding contact with wild animals. Always be aware of your surroundings when walking your dog. Animals that roam free are more likely to catch the virus from wild animals; walking your dog on a leash is better.
Effectiveness Of The Vaccine
- Vaccination is the foundation of rabies prevention. It stimulates the production of antibodies that fight the virus. However, the vaccine is only effective if administered before the virus enters the nervous system. Rabies vaccine has been developed for cats, dogs, horses, ferrets, etc., and are highly effective and safe.
Dogs and cats should be vaccinated for rabies before they reach the age of sixteen weeks. In the United States, revaccination boosters are required. But the frequency of vaccination depends on the state laws. Consult with your veterinarian for the appropriate vaccination schedule.
If your dog is not acting right, consult a veterinarian immediately. At Autumn Trails and Veterinary Center, we provide urgent pet care. We have the experience and technology to handle all types of healthcare needs of your pets. We are located in Charlottesville, VA. Appointments are conveniently available. Call us at 434-971-9800.