Rabies In Dogs

Valuable Information Pertaining to Rabies in Dogs

Of all known viruses, rabies is the best-known but thanks to new medication and treatment options, only three people in the United States have been infected from rabies in dogs.  However, experts estimate that approximately 50,000 people are exposed to rabies each year.  Remember, not everyone is at risk for being infected with this virus.  Typically, veterinarians, individuals that work directly with wildlife and even tourists going into unfamiliar areas of wildlife are at greatest risk.

To protect you, your family, other animals, and your own pet, you are required to keep your dog vaccinated.  That way, if the family pet were exposed or bitten by a rabid animal, they would be protected.  Rabies in dogs occurs when the animal is bitten by an infected animal, usually coyotes, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and even bats.  During the bit, the virus is transmitted through the saliva but once a dog has been bitten and infected, the host virus can only survive for approximately 24 hours, meaning the carcass would not generally pose a risk for further transmission.

Even if you do not live in a rural area where risk of infection would be higher, you need to do everything possible to keep your dog safe.  Sadly, in cases of rabies in dogs, often owners do not realize the problem until the animal has already suffered.  At that time, the dog would need to be humanly euthanized, for protection of the family and other pets, but also to put the dog out of its misery.

What happens with rabies in dogs is that once the animal has been infected, the nerves would be affected first, with the virus working its way slowly through the body to the brain, which is a process that takes two to six weeks.  Once the virus reaches the brain, it moves on to the salivary glands where it could be spread further through the saliva.  With the virus now in the brain, three stages occur.

For the situation of rabies in dogs, the following stages would be involved unless the owner recognizes the symptoms and takes immediate action.

Prodromal Phase – This phase lasts two to three days during which the dog would run a fever, become isolated, show nervousness and anxiety, and appear apprehensive.  Typically, dogs become timid, aggressive, and lick the area bitten excessively.

Furious Phase – The second phase lasts one to seven days.  Interestingly, while this phase would affect instances of rabies in dogs, it affects cats more.  Regardless, the animal would now show signs of irritability, restlessness, visual stimuli, and have hypersensitive hearing.  Often, dogs will bite at cages, become disoriented and some go through periods of seizures.

Paralytic Phase – The final phase associated with rabies in dogs lasts two to four days.  The animal salivates heavily due to not being able to swallow, breathing becomes deep and labored, and facial muscles become paralyzed.  Growing increasingly weaker, the dog goes into respiratory arrest and dies.

Sadly, when it comes to rabies in dog, no treatment exists, making this virus extremely serious and dangerous.  For instance, if an infected pet were to bite someone in the family, that person is now at high risk of dying.  Even with new medication and other treatment options, only a few people have been fortunate to survive a rabid bite.  This is why having your dog vaccinated is vital.