Rabies is a virus that is passed from animal to animal through bites and when infected saliva comes in contact with open wounds. It affects the central nervous system of the animal and results in aggressive, unpredictable behavior. The virus has been seen all over the world in wild animals, including bats, foxes, raccoons and skunks and domestic animals that have been bitten by wild animals. There is no cure for rabies, but vaccinations can help prevent the disease in your beloved pet.
Signs and Symptoms of Rabies
Initially, your pet may show no signs of infection, and you may not notice any bites on your animal, depending on where they were bitten. Signs and symptoms of rabies usually appear 14 days to two months after being infected, and your pet can become contagious to humans and other animals as soon as 10 days before any signs and symptoms appear.
If your dog or cat is let outside unsupervised, it is important to get your pet vaccinated. If your pet is not vaccinated against rabies, you must watch for new bites on your dog or cat and symptoms of rabies as the disease can be passed on to humans and other animals. Physically look over your dog or cat when they come inside for the evening and take note of any excessively licking or biting in one location as it may indicate the site of a fresh wound.
Signs and symptoms of rabies include unpredictable behavior, aggression and acting opposite of normal. As the disease progresses, your pet may show an aversion to water, staggering or stumbling while walking or running, extra sensitive to touch, foaming at the mouth, loss of appetite and seizures.
Vaccinate Your Pet Against Rabies
There is no cure for rabies. Therefore, prevention is the key to ensuring your beloved pet’s health. Unvaccinated pets should be kept indoors and away from wild animals and unvaccinated domestic animals.
Once your pet starts showing symptoms of infection, there is no medical intervention available to stop the progression of the disease. Therefore, it is imperative that you get your pet vaccinated against rabies as soon as they are old enough. Puppies and kittens can be vaccinated at 12 weeks of age. A second shot should be given one year later, and booster shots should be administered every three years for the life of your pet.
By keeping your dog or cat updated on their rabies shots, you are protecting your pet and other people who may come in contact with your pet. Failing to vaccinate your pet could lead to the animal being quarantined or euthanized if it bites another person.
There is no test for rabies that can be performed while your pet is alive because in order to determine if the disease is present, your pet’s brain tissue must be examined.
To help encourage rabies prevention, North Central Animal Hospital is providing rabies vaccinations by appointment at a reduced rate for dogs, cats, and ferrets. Call to schedule an appointment today.
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Foxes, bats, and skunks are the most common wildlife to become rabid. Keep your pets vaccinated and avoid contact with wild animals.
Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system and is usually spread through bites from infected animals. It is always fatal in humans once symptoms appear, but rapid treatment after exposure prevents death. There is no treatment for unvaccinated pets. ADHS Vector-Borne & Zoonotic Disease Section at (602) 364-4562 or visit cdc.gov/rabies or WorldRabiesDay.org. World Rabies Day is September 28th.
Compendium of Animal Rabies and Control, 2016
(by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians)