July 19

Dog Health 12: Rabies


Rabies, a type of transmissible Zoonotic Disease, is a serious disease that attacks your pet’s nervous system.  If you fail to treat rabies in your canine friend, it can ultimately cause it to die.  Furthermore, rabies is easily spread from one animal to another, including from an animal to a human.  Therefore, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms for the sake of your pet’s health, as well as to protect yourself.


Rabies: More Serious Than You Might Realize!


Rabies has garnered a great deal of attention from the medical community around the world.  In the United States alone, over $300 million is spent every year toward the prevention and treatment of this serious and highly infectious disease.


Every mammal, including livestock, people, and pets, are susceptible to rabies.  While over 90% of rabies are found in wildlife like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes, 8% of rabies cases are in domesticated animals – including dogs.  In the United States, Texas has the greatest reported number of rabies cases.


Signs and Symptoms of Rabies


Animals often do not show signs of being sick right away when they become infected with rabies.  As time passes, however, the rabies virus has time to travel to the brain via the nerves.  When the virus gets to the brain, it becomes inflamed.  In addition, the animal’s saliva becomes infected with the virus.  It is with this infected saliva that the animal passes the virus onto other animals.  All it takes is one bite to pass it on.


Once an animal does begin to show symptoms of rabies, it generally experiences a fever, agitation, excitation, and confusion.  It might also experience partial paralysis, insomnia, hyper-salivation, hallucination, difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia, or a fear of water.  Generally, an animal will die within a few days after symptoms of rabies appear.


Protecting Your Dog from Rabies


Sadly, the majority of dogs who get rabies are domesticated animals.  What makes this truly tragic is the fact that the disease can be prevented in these animals with a simple vaccination.  It is too easy for a pet to get bitten by a wild animal with rabies.  Even if you keep your dog inside at all times, accidents happen and pets sometimes get out of the house.  During that time, your precious canine friend can be bitten by an animal with rabies and contract this fatal disease.  Therefore, it is imperative to always keep your dog up to date on its rabies shots.


Even if your dog has been vaccinated against rabies, it is still helpful to keep it indoors in order to prevent it from contracting rabies.  If it does need to go outside, be sure to keep a close eye on it to make sure an animal does not bite it.  In addition, if you notice a suspicious stray animal, be sure to call animal control in order to report it.  Strays in general are more likely to carry rabies and are less likely to be vaccinated against it.


On the other hand, it is still vitally important to watch out for domesticated animals.  In fact, before rabies vaccinations became legally required of pet owners, more than 90% of all reported cases of rabies were in domesticated animals.  Although this figure is much less now, there are still cases of domesticated animals carrying the deadly disease.  Therefore, you need to be sure to always protect yourself and your pet from acquiring rabies.


Treating a Dog with Rabies


If another animal has bitten your pet, it is generally best to undergo rabies treatment as a precautionary measure.  This treatment, however, is quite painful.  Therefore, it is helpful to capture the animal if possible in order to test it for rabies before making your pet undergo treatment.  Often, the animal will be kept for observation.  If it shows no signs of rabies within ten days, any rabies treatment that has been started on your pet can be stopped.


There are a few other factors a veterinarian will consider before deciding to have your pet undergo treatment, such as:


  • Was the dog’s skin broken or were the mucus membranes contaminated?
  • Was the animal that bit your dog domestic or wild?
  • Was your dog vaccinated against rabies?
  • Is the species of animal that bit your dog likely to be rabid?
  • Was the bite provoked or not?  Rabid animals are more likely to bite another animal without provocation.


If the veterinarian determines there is a risk or rabies was transmitted to your pet, it will have to undergo a series of painful shots.  Although the shots are unpleasant, they are worth it to save your canine friend’s life.


Rabies can be life threatening, both to our dogs and ourselves. It is therefore imperative that if a dog is suspected of carrying Rabies, it has to be rushed to the pet hospital immediately! It may be the only way to save your pooch’s life.

As with all dangerous diseases, treating it (including quarantine, medication, hospital stay etc.) will increase the costs of treatment drastically. This is the core reason why having great pet insurance is tantamount to all owners’ financial health.


Get your free pet insurance quotation here!

about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and helping people make money online.

You may also like

Make Your Own Dog Food

How to Crate Train a Dog

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}