How Do Dogs Get Rabies?

How Do Dogs Get Rabies?

Understanding What Rabies Is

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It’s important for you, as a caregiver, to know that the disease is preventable and not a death sentence if action is taken promptly. The virus is usually transmitted through a bite from an infected animal. However, it can also be spread if the infected animal’s saliva comes into contact with a scratch, open wound, or mucous membranes.

How Dogs Contract Rabies

Your dog can contract rabies in a few ways, but the most common is through a bite from an infected animal. The rabies virus is carried in the saliva of infected animals. When an infected animal bites your dog, the virus can enter your dog’s body:

  1. Through a Bite: The most common method of transmission. Rabies is typically present in the saliva of an infected animal.
  2. Non-Bite Exposure: Although rare, the virus could be transmitted through a scratch or when infected saliva makes contact with mucous membranes or an open fresh wound.

Symptoms to Look Out For

As a caregiver, it’s crucial to know the symptoms of rabies. If you observe any of the following symptoms in your dog, you should contact your vet immediately:

  • Changes in behavior, including aggression or withdrawal
  • Fever
  • Excessive drooling or frothing at the mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Paralysis or weakness in the limbs

Preventing Rabies in Your Dog

Let’s talk about how you can protect your dog from rabies.

  1. Vaccination: The easiest and most effective way is by ensuring your dog is vaccinated against rabies.
  2. Avoid Wildlife: Keep your dog on a leash or within a fenced area to avoid contact with wild animals.
  3. Report Stray Animals: Alert local animal control if you notice stray dogs or wild animals like raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats in your area.
Prevention Method Description
Vaccination Vaccinate your dog regularly as advised by the vet
Avoid Wildlife Keep your dog away from potentially infected animals
Report Stray Animals Report any sick or stray animals to local animal control

Rabies Treatment

Unfortunately, once a dog shows signs of rabies, the disease is almost always fatal. However, if you suspect that your dog has been exposed to the rabies virus, it’s critical to take them to a vet immediately. The vet can administer a booster shot to help fight the virus if your dog is already vaccinated.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can rabies be cured in dogs?

A: Once symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal. However, if you suspect exposure, see a vet immediately as a booster shot can help.

Q: How often should my dog be vaccinated for rabies?

A: Puppies should get their first rabies shot at 16 weeks, then again at one year of age. After that, it depends on local regulations and the specific vaccine used.

Q: Can my dog get rabies from a squirrel or a bird?

A: While it’s possible, it’s extremely rare. Most cases are from bites by infected mammals like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes.