Rabies: Is Your Dog At Risk?

Rabies: Is Your Dog At Risk?

In almost every case of rabies, the infection is fatal. All mammals (including humans) are susceptible to this virus infection, which causes an acute infection of the brain. During the illness disturbances of behavior are noted, which in some species results in unprovoked aggression and the biting of other animals. This is usually the case with an affected dog. And because the rabies virus can be present in saliva, bites and licks from infected animals can spread the disease.

The good news is that the rabies vaccine is very effective in preventing the spread of rabies to pet dogs and cats. And, rabies vaccinations are required by law in most areas, which helps to protect both people and pets. These vaccinations are considered to be core vaccines for dogs and cats.

The particulars of the rabies protocols differ slightly from one state to another and even from one veterinarian to another, but typically, the first vaccine is given to puppies at 12 weeks. A rabies booster vaccine is given a year later and then it is administered either annually or every three years.

Insuring that a pet receives and keeps current with the rabies vaccine is an important component of dog ownership. It protects the family of the pet, the pet itself, as well as other animals and people. When a person is bitten by a dog one of the first things checked is the veterinarian record.

In most cases, if the dog is current with his vaccines, according to the state protocols, the danger of the individual being exposed to rabies is considered negligible. But if the dog was not vaccinated it is likely that the animal will be quarantined for a period of ten to fourteen days. In most cases, the owner of the pet will be responsible for the cost of this confinement which will take place in a secured facility.

Incubation in a person is usually three to eight weeks but it can be as long as two years. Initial symptoms may include numbness around the area of the bite, fever, headaches, and general fatigue.

If a dog is bitten by a rabid animal or is suspected of being infected with rabies the outcome will be much more positive if the dog has been vaccinated against rabies. If so, in most cases the pet will be re-vaccinated and confined for a period of time (which varies from state to state, generally from 30 – 50 days).

If the animal was not vaccinated and the exposure is confirmed the usual recommendation is euthanasia for the pet. Otherwise, the pet is quarantined for a lengthy period of time, often for as long as six months. The confinement takes place in a secure facility and the pet owner is liable for the expenses incurred. Fines are also assessed for not having the pet properly vaccinated.  If the dog shows signs of illness euthanasia is likely.

When an animal is infected with the rabies virus the infection or virus is replicated in tissues throughout the body and it eventually reaches the brain. When it does there is a personality change in the animal. The dog is likely to be aggressive and dangerous to be around. Soon afterward the animal’s throat is likely to become paralyzed, preventing him from swallowing. In this phase you are likely to see drooling or foaming at the mouth. Death usually occurs within ten days from the time the brain of the animal becomes infected.

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