Rabies Symptoms in Dogs and Its Treatment

Rabies Symptoms

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. 

Rabies in dogs

How is rabies 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 in 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. Around 2-4 days later, the symptoms get more prominent and worrisome. 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
  • Behavioural changes (your dog may become more aggressive than usual or extremely depressed)

This disease eventually causes the dog to slip 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; it protects your dog from getting infected by the rabies virus as well as a person was bit, scratched, or licked by an animal. The vaccine is the only prevention plan available against the transmission of this disease. 

Effects of rabies 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 small bats that look harmless and eat insects should not be handled with bare hands. Their bites may go unnoticed, but they can inflict serious wounds.

Prevention and treatment

The only prevention plan for rabies is 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 once the doctor-recommended tests confirm that you have contracted rabies, there is no treatment—only a small number of people have survived rabies. 

Quarantine period of the dog

If your dog has contracted rabies, it must be quarantined for a period of 10 days to ensure that your fur baby doesn’t spread the infection to other healthy people and animals. 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. In case you suspect that a dog in your locality has rabies, do not go near it. However, it is imperative that you notify your local government authorities or a vet about the same.

Measures to be taken by the dog owner

Here are some tips you must keep in mind:

  • 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. 
  • Stay aware of rabies and its symptoms so you can take necessary measures when required

FAQs on rabies in dogs

What are the first signs of rabies in a dog?

The first signs of rabies in dogs often show up in the animal’s behaviour. They may start behaving more aggressively or friendlier than normal. Apart from these, other rabies symptoms in dogs include seizures, difficulty in breathing, paralysis of motor functions, etc. 

Can a dog recover from rabies?

How long does it take for rabies to show in dogs?

How does a dog get rabies?

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