Rabies in Dogs: Symptoms, Prevention, and Vaccination

Rabies in dogs, also known as Lyssavirus, is one of the most feared infections around the world. This virus can be very devastating and dangerous, not only for dogs but also for humans. When a dog that is not vaccinated and gets infected with this disease, the consequence is always fatal.

The most common species that can spread rabies to pets and humans are bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes. It must be highlighted that the most common wildlife that can easily gain access indoors and can potentially infect pets and humans are bats.

“Aw little Charlie”. Online Image. EveryStockPhoto. baileyraeweave. Dec 05, 2012

What Is Rabies And How Is It Transmitted?

Rabies is a very dangerous and fatal virus that primarily affects the brain and spinal cord of your dog. This is an infectious disease that affects the central nervous system. This virus is transmitted through the saliva from the bite of an infected animal. The virus can only survive for a short time when exposed to open air.

Despite being preventable, a lot of people still fear rabies in dogs. This is because of the fact that this virus has been reported to be present in every state, except in Hawaii. Every year, millions of animals die worldwide due to rabies, and more than 50,000 people have been infected by this virus.

A rabid dog can transmit the virus to humans and other animals during the final stages of the disease, when the dog’s body is already shedding the virus. Fortunately, most dogs receive vaccine shots for rabies. These vaccine shots can protect them from this deadly and dangerous disease. To protect your dog from this fatal virus, you must ensure that your pet is vaccinated regularly.

Common Symptoms Of A Rabid Dog

There are various symptoms you need to watch out for to determine whether your dog or other unfamiliar canines are infected with rabies. There are three main stages of this virus, and here are the symptoms for each stage:

1. Prodromal Phase

  • Apprehension, uneasiness, anxiety, solitude
  • Behavioral changes: friendly animals may become shy or aggressive, and aggressive animals may become affectionate and submissive
  • Fever, slow eye reflexes, and self mutilation at the bite site
  • Constant licking of the bite site

2. Furious Phase

  • Shock
  • Lethargy, weakness, muscle trembling, spasms
  • Irritability, excessive barking, restlessness, disorientation
  • Nausea, vomiting, and convulsions
  • Slow breathing and decreased spinal reflexes
  • Vicious attacks on inanimate things

3. Paralytic Phase

  • Paralysis of the larynx
  • Lax jaw
  • Inability to swallow, eat, or drink
  • Drooling or foaming at the mouth
  • Breathing muscles are paralyzed
  • Coma and paralysis

Unfortunately, there is no cure for rabies. Infected dogs will die after seven to ten days since the onset of symptoms.

Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Rabies Through Vaccinations?

Vaccination is very important in preventing rabies in your dog, and it is also required by law in the country. Your dog can avail the standard killed-virus vaccines. The initial dose of this vaccine is good for the whole year. Subsequent shots are effective for up to three years. Puppies must be vaccinated when they reach 12 weeks of age, with boosts given after a year and every three years.

If an animal suspected of having rabies bites your vaccinated dog, your dog must be revaccinated and must be quarantined for a certain period of time, usually within two to three months. To protect your dog and your family from rabies, you must remember to take your dog to his veterinarian periodically. The veterinarian will know when the vaccine must be given and the proper dosage.