How can dogs get rabies?
Rabies is a serious, always fatal, disease that can affect animals and humans. A dog can get rabies in just a few ways, and all of them include the saliva of an infected animal.
The most common way dogs get infected is by being bitten by an animal that has rabies. The most common way a human can get rabies is by being bitten by an animal, and this is why vaccination against rabies is extremely important.
Before learning about other ways through which a dog can get infected with rabies, we should learn more about this disease.
What is rabies?
Rabies is a disease that affects the brain. It is produced by a virus that is transmitted between mammals through direct contact with saliva.
Georg Gottfried first discovered that rabies is an infectious disease, in 1804. But it was Louis Pasteur who invented the vaccine that now saves thousands of lives, and that is mandatory for dogs in most states.
Once the host is infected, the virus will incubate for a period of 14 to 56 days and the symptoms will appear only after the incubation period is over.
Data shows that in the United States, 60,000 people receive rabies vaccination, but thankfully, they came in contact with wild animals, not dogs. All mammals can get rabies, even if it can be prevented through vaccination.
What are the Symptoms of rabies?
eryone knows that a rabid animal will have white foam around its mouth. It’s an image that is imprinted in our memory. But a rabid dog will also develop other symptoms that will slowly progress and the disease will become obvious.
These symptoms are:
- Eating strange objects
- Developing a Fever
- Increased aggressiveness
- Massive change in temperament
- Changes in voice
- The seams anxious
- Hydrophobia – fear of water (it’s apparent because the dog wouldn’t be afraid of the water, but it loses the ability to swallow, so it’s afraid of choking)
- Hypersalivation – which leads to the white foam around the mouth.
After the onset of the disease, the process is irreversible, and the brain will become inflamed. The dog will eventually die, but it will probably be put down by a veterinarian before that happens, in order to contain the disease.
If you believe that your dog was in contact with an animal that carried rabies, you must contact your veterinarian immediately, and they will give your dog another dose of the rabies vaccine, to make sure that your pet’s immunity is up to the challenge.
How can dogs get rabies?
Usually, in our modern world, dogs don’t get rabies anymore. But, the risk is always there, because rabies wasn’t eradicated and there are only two places on Earth that never had it: Australia and Antarctica.
Dogs get rabies by contact with saliva or tissue of an infected animal. This happens if they meet and fight or play with an infected animal or if they encounter the carcass of an animal who died of rabies.
The most common carriers of rabies in the US are:
- Cats – who are considered a wild animal
Even if a dog doesn’t fight an animal, and get bitten, there are a few slim chances to get it by touching, with an open wound, a surface that was touched by the saliva of a rabid animal.
It might seem far-fetched, but foxes and raccoons can leave saliva on the bushes that a dog would scratch its back on.
This is why vaccination is extremely important and should be carried according to the veterinarian’s instruction, and to the requirements of the state laws. You can read more about this here.
How is rabies diagnosed?
Sadly, there is no test that can be done on a live animal in order to make a diagnosis. The only way a medical professional can make a diagnosis is by observing the symptoms.
The virus lives and multiplies in the brain and the nervous system of the victim, and a biopsy would be the only way to learn that the dog has rabies. This cannot be done while the animal is alive.
Modern medicine has brought us a lot of advancements, and there are many that keep our dogs safe, healthy, and with a long lifespan. One of these advancements is vaccination, and the rabies vaccine is one that no dog should miss.