Curious about rabies in dogs? Are you wondering if it can be treated and if vaccinating your dog guarantees full protection? Our Clovis vets answer these and other questions in today's blog.
How can a dog get rabies?
A sick mammal can pass this serious illness to any other mammal, including pets, livestock, wildlife, and humans, through saliva. If your pet is bitten by a rabid animal or if the spit or parts of the brain or sponge from an animal, whether alive or dead, get in your pet's eyes, mouth, nose, or a cut, they can get rabies, too.
How to Know if Your Dog Has Rabies
One of the most common questions we receive from pup parents researching rabies is, "What are the signs of rabies in a dog?" The rabies virus impacts the central nervous system. Signs your dog has rabies include:
- Overreacting to light, sound, or touch
- Excessive drooling
- Licking or biting the wound site where exposure occurred
- Staggering or falling, with eventual paralysis
- Loss of appetite or difficulty drinking or eating
Rabies is very deadly. If an animal shows signs of rabies, it usually dies within 7 to 10 days. If a wild animal bites your dog, a rabies vaccination booster may be administered to reduce the chance that your dog will contract the virus.
Your dog will be unable to interact with other animals for a time. Quarantine restrictions vary from location to location. Contact your local public health unit and veterinarian and follow their instructions closely.
Once rabies symptoms show up in dogs, there's no cure. Sadly, if your vet thinks your dog has rabies, they might need to be put down to stop the virus from spreading.
What is the incubation period of rabies?
The incubation period for rabies is the time from when your dog is exposed to the virus until they show symptoms.
In most cases, your pet will display signs of the disease within two weeks of being exposed, but symptoms can appear months later. This is why it's imperative to vaccinate your dog and carefully follow any advice provided by your local public health unit if you suspect your dog has been exposed.
If your pet has rabies, it can spread to other pets and humans up to 10 days before symptoms show.
Can my dog still contract rabies after being vaccinated?
Unfortunately, the rabies vaccine is not 100% effective. That said, the vaccine does provide a large amount of protection for your pet, and the best and easiest form of prevention is to keep your dog's vaccinations up to date.
It's safer for your pet to have the vaccine as opposed to living without it, as the rabies virus is fairly common.
Can a vaccinated dog transmit rabies?
Even if a dog is vaccinated against rabies, there's a small chance it could still pass on the disease. Regardless of vaccination status, any dog that's been bitten must be quarantined for 10 days. If the dog or cat was infectious at the time of the bite, symptoms of the virus will appear within an animal within 10 days.
Can I vaccinate my own dog for rabies?
If you were to choose to vaccinate your own animal for rabies, state public health and law enforcement officials would not recognize your vaccination as valid. You and the animal will be treated as if no rabies vaccine was administered.
To be recognized as a legal and valid vaccination, the rabies vaccine must be administered by a veterinarian who holds a current license in accordance with established state protocol.
However, if your pet's vaccinations are not up-to-date, there could be consequences like quarantine or, in extreme cases, euthanasia. If your pet bites someone, it will need to be confined for at least 10 days to check for rabies.
How to Test a Dog for Rabies
Diagnosing rabies isn't simple using a blood test. To get a 100% accurate diagnosis, you need to take a sample of the animal's brain tissue, which can only be done after the animal has passed away.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.