Dog Rabies: A Serious and Contagious Disease

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Dog Rabies

Dog rabies is one of the most well-known viral diseases affecting dogs. Most communities require a rabies vaccination by law because dog rabies is transmissible to humans and many other animals. There is no treatment for rabies and it is deadly. Transmission to humans is not common in the United States, but people who work closely with animals, especially wildlife, and people who travel frequently are considered at high risk and urged to get a rabies vaccination. Dog rabies vaccination is widely available and usually affordable. Transmission of dog rabies usually occurs through contact with wildlife. Infection occurs when a rabid animal bites a non-rabid animal, or a human. A dog rabies vaccine is essential because your dog could easily cross paths with a rabid raccoon, fox, skunk or other animal.

Rabies Symptoms

Rabies symptoms often occur in a period of stages. Once in the body, the virus spreads to the brain and incubates for 3-8 weeks. In the first or prodromal stage, a rabid dog displays apprehension, change in personality, and fever. This stage last for two or three days. In the second, or furious, phase, a rabid dog becomes irritable and restless. He may appear oversensitive to lights and noises. A rabid dog may become aggressive and attack other animals or people. Finally, a rabid dog suffers disorientation, seizures, and death. Dog rabies symptoms may include an intermediate paralytic stage, which affects the head and throat. A rabid dog in this stage may drool excessively due to his inability to swallow. Labored breathing and a dropped jaw may ensue. The paralytic stage leads to death from respiratory failure.

Rabies Diagnosis and Rabies Vaccine

Rabies diagnosis involves removal of the brain, so it can be inspected under a microscope. Rabies is incurable, but humans who have been exposed may receive preventative post-exposure vaccinations. Luckily dog rabies is easily preventable. Rabies shots can be procured from your vet and from many local humane associations. Rabies shots are inexpensive and are even made more available during public vaccination events.