Rabies is easily spread when an infected animal bites a non-infected animal. We often associate rabies with skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and bats, but dogs are certainly susceptible.
In dogs, the incubation period of the virus is usually two weeks to four months. There are numerous factors that contribute to how quickly the virus reaches the nervous tissue, including severity of the bite, site of infection, and amount of virus transmitted. While rabies is largely considered fatal, it is possible to interrupt the progression of the virus with an anti-rabies serum administered at the first signs of infection.
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Signs a Dog Has Rabies
There are several different phases of rabies and dogs that have been bitten by a rabid animal may experience one or all three. In the beginning, your dog may appear restless, aggressive, irritable, shy, lick, bite or chew the infected area, have a fever, and bite or snap at you. As the virus progresses and moves to the spinal cord, brain, and saliva glands, they have a heightened sensitivity to light, a hard time swallowing, heavy breathing, begin hiding in dark places, eat strange items, lose control over their throat, and start foaming at the mouth.
It is very important you understand all the various signs of rabies, especially if you live in a rural area where your dog may come in contact with rabid animals.
- Biting or Snapping
- Heavy Breathing
- Choking Sounds
- Starting to Eat Strange Things
- Hiding in Dark Places
- Foaming at the Mouth
- Jaw Hangs Open
- Dilated Pupils
- Fear of Water
History of Dogs and Rabies
In 2015 alone, rabies was the result of 17,400 deaths worldwide. This includes dogs, wild animals, and humans. Unfortunately, in Asia, Africa, and parts of the Americas, dogs are the main host of the virus. This is due to numerous factors, but mostly because mandatory vaccination of rabies is not as effective in rural parts of the world.
The first known rabies vaccination for humans was developed in 1885 and a more effective version was introduced in 1908. However, a rabies vaccination was not developed for dogs until 1979. Since then, it has largely helped eliminate the threat of rabies in many parts of the world.
Science Behind Treating Dogs For Rabies
The rabies virus attacks the nervous system, resulting in brain inflammation and serious damage to the muscle tissue, spinal cord, and brain. Because of this, it is not easy to treat. This is why the rabies vaccination is so important when it comes to protecting our beloved pets.
How to React if Your Dog Has Rabies
Call your vet right away!
Do not let the dog bite you or make contact with your skin.
Isolate the dog.
Safety Tips for Preventing Rabies
Keep your dog from roaming around outdoors.
Use a lead on walks.
Do what you can to keep raccoons from coming on your property.
Get regular rabies vaccines!