What to Know About Rabies in Dogs

Dog Health

Rabies is a viral disease that can affect all mammals, including dogs and humans, and is one of the most devastating diseases. Thanks to advanced medicine, rabies can be prevented with vaccines. Unfortunately, when symptoms of rabies appear in dogs, it can be fatal. For this reason, dogs should be observed closely, rabies vaccinations should be completed and the possibility of rabies transmission in dogs should be minimized. In this article, we’ll cover what you need to know about rabies in dogs, including dog rabies symptoms.

What is Rabies?

Rabies, which causes the death of more than 50 thousand people and millions of animals worldwide every year, is a virus that can affect the brain and spinal cord of mammals. This virus, which is fatal when symptoms occur, is transmitted through saliva as a result of being bitten by an infected animal. Another mode of transmission is the contamination of the open wound with the saliva of the infected animal.

How Do Dogs Get Rabies?

As we just mentioned, when an infected animal bites another animal, which we’re treating as dogs for this article, the virus enters the bloodstream from the saliva. The virus enters the dog’s peripheral nerves, multiplies and spreads to the salivary glands. Dogs that have not been bitten but have an open wound and that come into contact with the infected animal’s saliva and wound area are also faced with a similar transmission. Although rabies is generally thought of as a disease transmitted from dogs to dogs, it is known that many dogs that have caught rabies have contracted this virus because they have been bitten by foxes, raccoons and bats. The rabies virus needs the mammalian body to survive, it is known that this virus cannot survive outside the body.

How Long Is the Incubation Period of Rabies?

The incubation period of rabies, in other words, the time it takes for clinical symptoms to appear can vary from 10 days to 1 year. The time the dog shows signs of rabies can vary from 2 weeks to 4 months after contracting the virus. The rate of development of clinical symptoms may vary according to the site of infection, the severity of the bite and the amount of virus transmitted to the body during the bite. The closer the bite is to the brain or spinal cord, the faster the virus reaches the nerve tissues, causing the dog to develop rabies symptoms earlier.

brown dog lying under the blanket

What Are the Symptoms of Rabies in Dogs?

After dogs are infected with rabies and the incubation period has ended, behavioral differences are encountered initially. The infected dog begins to display restless and irritable behaviors and become aggressive. Uncharacteristic warm-blooded behavior can also be observed in rabid animals. Dogs with generally happy and excited demeanors can become disinterested. Physical symptoms of rabies in dogs can include fever, difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, staggering, seizures, and paralysis.

As the virus progresses through the body, dogs may experience overstimulated behaviors. The usual movements and noises may disturb dogs; It can trigger hiding and aggression behaviors. Dogs in this period want to spend time in dark and quiet environments as much as possible.

One of the most striking signs of rabies in a dog is foaming at the mouth. Some dogs may not have foaming at the mouth, just excessive saliva or drool production. These symptoms indicate that rabies is progressing. In the latter stages, dogs often begin to have seizures and show signs of paralysis. Dogs in this period cannot control the muscles especially in the head and throat areas, they have difficulty in swallowing and unfortunately they cannot breathe because they cannot control their respiratory muscles.

Once rabies symptoms appear in dogs, there is no cure for this disease. For this reason, bitten dogs must be taken to veterinarians as soon as possible.


How to Tell if a Dog Has Rabies

Understanding that the dog has rabies is critically important for early evaluation of treatment options. However, the diagnosis of this disease cannot be made successfully with blood tests in living dogs. In order to be diagnosed with 100% accuracy, a biopsy of the brain tissue is required.

With the use of anti-rabies serum in the early period after the bite, the progression of the infection can be stopped. This antiserum contains specific immune antibodies against the virus. The most effective method of preventing the progression of rabies is to administer 1 dose of rabies vaccine. The vaccine ensures that the bitten animal develops neutralizing antibodies to the rabies virus.

How to Treat Rabies in Dogs

There is no cure for rabies. Therefore, it is necessary to take preventive measures. There are several approved rabies vaccines for dogs. All dogs should be vaccinated against rabies when they are between 12 and 16 weeks old, and the rabies vaccine should be repeated every year.

There are various question marks about rabies, which is one of the most frightening diseases for people who start living with dogs. Do puppies get rabies or can puppies get rabies? Questions like these rightfully come to mind. The answer to these questions is unfortunately “yes”.

Puppies may carry the rabies virus, may have been bitten by an animal carrying the rabies virus before being vaccinated. The rabies virus does not only affect adult dogs, it can affect puppies as well. For this reason, it is recommended that puppies should not be taken out of the house before the basic vaccinations, including rabies vaccination, are completed. You can access our Vaccination Schedule for Puppies and Adult Dogs here.

Rabies, one of the most dangerous diseases that puts the lives of dogs at risk, also threatens humans. It is important to complete rabies vaccinations, along with all other basic vaccinations, when dogs are still puppies. It should not be forgotten that rabies can affect public health and cause undesirable results.

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