Rabies symptoms in dogs and its vaccination

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What is rabies?

Rabies is a fatal viral disease that is caused by the rabies virus. The saliva of the infected animals causes the disease, and all mammals can fall prey to it. Rabies in dogs leads to sudden and gradually increasing swelling in the brain and spinal cord.

How often is it caused in dogs?

About 10,000 dogs are infected with rabies in the Philippines each year, it is believed. Stray dogs are at a greater risk of contracting rabies because they are not vaccinated and are not likely to be taken care of post-infection.

Rabies in dogs

How is it transmitted?

Rabies in dogs can be transmitted when an infected animal bites an uninfected one. This causes the transfer of the infection through the bite into the uninfected animal. Sometimes rabies is also transmitted when the saliva of the infected dog comes in contact with an open wound of an uninfected dog. This causes the transmission of the rabies infection without biting.

Causes and symptoms of rabies in dogs

The early symptoms of rabies are hard to detect. These signs include fever, decreased appetite and energy levels. 2-4 days later, the symptoms get more prominent and worrisome. The rabies symptoms in dogs include:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Difficulty in swallowing saliva which leads to hypersalivation
  • Formation of foam in the mouth
  • Paralysis of various motor functions
  • Seizures
  • Behavioral changes - your dog may become more aggressive than normal or extremely depressed.

This disease eventually slips the dog into a coma and results in death.

Prevention and treatment of rabies in dogs

There is no way to treat rabies. It is a fatal disease and humane euthanasia is recommended to put an end to the dog’s misery. You can only prevent rabies by taking your dog to regular vaccination appointments. The rabies vaccine for dogs provides two-way protection against rabies. It not only protects your dog from getting infected from the rabies virus but also protects it if it bites someone. The vaccine is the only prevention plan available against the transmission of this disease.

Effects on humans

Risk of passing rabies to people

Humans are also at risk of contracting rabies if they are bitten by an infected animal. Raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, and other wild carnivores can also transmit rabies. Even the small bats that eat insects and look harmless should not be handled with bare hands. Their bites may go unnoticed but they can inflict wounds.

Prevention and treatment

The only prevention plan for rabies is a vaccination.

Vaccine to be taken by humans

You can prevent yourself from contracting rabies by getting the rabies vaccine shot. If an animal bites you, you will have to get the shot for rabies as soon as possible after the bite attack. This is a safety precaution. The vaccine helps your immune system identify the rabies virus and fight against it. But after getting bitten by an animal and the doctor’s test confirming you have contracted rabies, there is no treatment. A very small number of people have survived rabies.

Guidelines/Laws regarding rabies in different countries

Quarantine period of the dog

If your dog has contracted rabies, it has to be quarantined to make sure it does not spread the infection to other healthy people and animals. It must be mandatorily quarantined for a period of 10 days. The infected animal can be quarantined at the animal control facility or at the owner’s house. The quarantine tenure is set at 10 days because the infected animal can only transmit rabies after it starts showing clinical symptoms and after these symptoms start to show, it will die in 10 days. If the animal tends to live after 10 days, it indicates it was not infected with the rabies virus. But if it dies within this period, you can get it tested to check if it had rabies.

Measures to be taken by the dog owner

Here are some tips you must keep in mind -

  • You must know the dos and don’ts pertaining to the issues if your pet animal contracts rabies
  • Never skip a vaccination appointment
  • Your puppy must receive its first rabies shot between 16-18 weeks of age
  • It is also advisable to have your dog’s rabies vaccination certificate handy
  • If your dog bites a human or another animal, let the local health department know immediately
  • If your dog has scratches or bite marks from a wild animal, rush to the vet
  • If you are bitten by a stray dog or an animal, rush to your doctor to get yourself vaccinated.

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