Everything You Need to Know About a Dog with Rabies

Rabid dog You love your pup. He’s your best friend. Confidante. Your Frisbee companion. A shoulder to cry on.

And he loves you. With every wag of his tail. Each playful nip. Every joyful jump when you return home. This is true love.

That’s why it can be so devastating to think your best friend may have a dangerous illness such as rabies.

Let’s take a look at how you can spot a dog with rabies and ways to protect your dog. 

What Is Rabies?

Rabies is a severe viral condition that can affect a mammals’ central nervous system. Once contaminated, the prognosis is death.

A dog with rabies kills approximately 189 people every day. This is one of the many reasons rabies should be on your radar

How Does a Dog Get Rabies?

The virus that causes rabies is primarily contracted through saliva of an affected animal. A dog can become infected through contact with the fluids of the mouth, nose or eyes, but this is much less common.

A dog with rabies most likely contracted the virus through being bitten by an infected animal. The tainted saliva then journeys by way of the nerves and spinal cord to the dog’s brain.

How Soon Will I Know If My Dog Has Rabies?

As with most viruses, rabies has an incubation period of about 2-7 weeks. During this time, you cannot tell if your dog has contracted the virus.

As soon as the virus reaches the brain, the virus begins its replication process, making its way to the salivary glands.

What Does A Dog With Rabies Look Like?

The symptoms of a dog with rabies vary slightly from animal to animal. But the most obvious signs that a dog has rabies can be broken into three stages.

Early Signs

  • Notable differences in personality or behavior
  • Fearful behavior, anxious shaking
  • Withdrawal and hesitation to interact with people or animals
  • Regular cleaning of the bite location

Middle Signs

  • Emotional, physical and mental unrest and agitation
  • Exaggerated/hyper-vigilant responses to the environment
  • Mild seizures

Late Signs

  • All-out aggressive tendencies such as snarling
  • Violent behaviors such as biting, clawing
  • Disorientation and progressive seizures
  • Partial or complete paralysis of the neck and head
  • The paralysis prevents a dog with rabies from being able to swallow
  • This prevention of swallowing creates excessive salivation, commonly referred to as “foaming at the mouth”
  • Breathing difficulties

How Does a Dog With Rabies Get Diagnosed?

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut test to determine rabies is present in a dog. We can only go by the present symptoms, reported likelihood that the dog came in contact with an infected animal and the behavior of the dog.

Following death of a dog with rabies, a test can be performed to verify the presence of rabies. This test is called a Direct Fluorescent Antibody Test (dFA) and involves examining samples from the dog’s brain tissue.

A period of immediate quarantine and observation is recommended for any animal that has the slightest likelihood of being infected.

What If There Is Suspicion That A Human Being Has Been Infected?

If a human has been bitten by another mammal, the doctors will run tests on the person’s hair, skin, blood and saliva.

Is There Any Treatment Or Cure For a Dog With Rabies?

Sadly, there’s no treatment or cure for a dog with rabies. A humane and rapid death is the kindest action an owner can take. This prevents any further suffering for the animal and any potential for continued transmission of the virus.

Is There Any Treatment Or Cure For a Human Who Has Contracted Rabies?

If a person realizes early enough that they’ve been infected, a series of treatments can be effective. The person will need to go through a Post-exposure Prophylaxis, or PEP, involving a round of shots containing rabies vaccine and immune globulin.

This treatment can only be successful if administered before signs of infection have begun.

How Can I Protect Myself And My Pet From Rabies?

Prevention is really the primary hope when it comes to rabies.

Step 1: Get Informed

Reading this far in the article means you’ve already taken the first crucial step: educate yourself. The more you know about what you’re up against, the more mindful and quick-acting you can be.

Step 2: Rabies Vaccines

Maintaining regular vaccinations is the key here. Your dog should receive a rabies vaccine every year. In some places, law requires this.

Step 3: Decrease The Potential For Contamination

Decide on a safe distance for your dog to freely roam the area surrounding your home. Don’t allow your dog to stay gone for days on end. And maintain clear boundaries with your dog about how far is too far.

Using a leash when you go to unknown woods or new parks is a great idea. Infected raccoons, coyotes or squirrels can be lurking just beyond the tree leaves.

Step 4: Call Your Vet Immediately

If you think your dog might have been infected with the virus, take him or her to your vet ASAP. The sooner it can be diagnosed the better.

Some pet owners don’t want to know the truth. They may avoid or procrastinate on getting their dog into see the vet for fear of the diagnosis. Just remember that the most loving thing to do when it comes to rabies, is to act swiftly to prevent a truly painful experience for your beloved pet.

Bringing It All Together

You keep your dog healthy with top nutrition and helpful supplements to make his life as fulfilling as it can be. You keep him safe in life, and if the worst-case happens, you can keep him safe in death.

A few take-home points about rabies:

  • Keep your personal feelings in check and don’t delay getting your dog checked if you think he might’ve been infected
  • Maintain open dialog with your vet
  • Keep your pup in sight wherever you are

Your Dog’s Health Matters

You love your dog. So you’ll want to stay up-to-date on ways you can keep him joyfully barking all year long.

To stay current on ways to keep your pup healthy and lively, check out our reviews at Top Dog Vitamins.