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02 Dec, 2023
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Rabies In Dogs – H&S Pets Galore

Everything You Need To Know About Rabies In Dogs

Rabies is a fatal viral disease that attacks the brain and the spinal cord and is incurable once there is an onset of symptoms. All mammals can catch rabies including dogs. Having said that, rabies is a 100% preventable viral disease that simply requires your canine friend to be vaccinated against rabies.

The next question that comes to mind is how can a pet dog get rabies. It’s important to note that the rabies virus is secreted in the saliva and can be passed to your pet dog through a bite from an infected animal. The virus enters the bloodstream through the break in the skin. The virus can enter the bloodstream through an open wound exposed to the saliva of an infected animal, this happens usually from licking. So if one pet is infected and licks a wound of another pet then this can cause the virus to be passed on. Another way the virus can be contracted is through exposure to wild animals such as wild dogs. In Kenya, rabies has been endemic since the first case reported in 1912. Annually, approximately 2,000 people die from the bite of a rabid dog in Kenya. It is, therefore, a health concern not just for dogs but also for the public.

What Are The Symptoms Of Rabies To Look Out For In Your Pet Dog That Has Been Exposed? 

If your pet dog has been bitten by another animal &/or you are worried about your canine friend contracting rabies, you should immediately call your vet. Keep a keen eye on your pet’s behaviour such as restlessness, irritability, aggression as this will give you a hint but don’t wait for the symptoms and signs.

Some signs to look out for include fever, swallowing issues, excessive drooling, fits or seizures, paralysis, gait-related issues. As the condition worsens, you will notice your dog may get agitated with bright lights or sounds and may prefer a dark, quieter space to hide.

If you notice foaming at your dog’s mouth or excess drooling/salivating you know that the virus has progressed. The last signs of the final stages include seizures, paralysis, and loss of muscular functions in the head and throat which will show up as difficulty in swallowing and eventually breathing which finally leads to death.

Note not all dogs that are infected will show signs immediately, the virus can hide in the body for weeks before you notice any signs or symptoms. The incubation period thus varies from anywhere within 21 to 80 days, give and take. It’s important to understand that once symptoms develop, treatment is no longer an option and death is the final outcome. It’s therefore, important to not wait and call your vet immediately if you have a doubt that your dog came into contact with an infected animal.

How To Prevent, Diagnose & Treat Rabies?

It comes without saying that prevention is better than cure and hence it is so important to get your dog vaccinated, so you not only risk losing your dog but also stop the transmission of the virus to other animals and humans.

Unfortunately, there is no single accurate testing method to diagnose and detect rabies in your live pet. The direct fluorescent antibody test is by far the most accurate test that requires taking a biopsy of your dead pet’s brain tissue.

As mentioned earlier, once there is an onset of symptoms treatment is impossible. The common practice by a vet would be euthanizing a suspected case of a rabid dog to prevent further spread.

In the case of your pet dog being bitten by a wild animal, a booster dose of the vaccine may help to lessen the chances of your pet contracting the virus.

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