How to spot and treat rabies in dogs
Initially, a dog who’s become infected by rabies may show extreme behavioral changes such as restlessness or apprehension, both of which may be compounded by aggression. Friendly dogs may become irritable, while normally excitable animals may become more docile. A dog may bite or snap at any form of stimulus, attacking other animals, humans and even inanimate objects. They may constantly lick, bite and chew at the site where they were bitten. A fever may also be present at this stage.
As the virus progresses, an infected dog may become hypersensitive to touch, light and sound. They may eat unusual things and hide in dark places. Paralysis of the throat and jaw muscles may follow, resulting in the well-known symptom of foaming at the mouth. Disorientation, incoordination and staggering may occur, caused by paralysis of the hind legs. Other classic signs of rabies include loss of appetite, weakness, seizures and sudden death.
If you suspect your dog has rabies, call your veterinarian immediately. If it is safe to do so, cage, or otherwise subdue your dog, and take it to a veterinarian to be quarantined. If your pet is behaving viciously, or is trying to attack, and you feel you are at risk of being bitten or scratched, you must contact animal control to catch your dog for you.
Dogs will normally be kept in a locked cage for 10 days. This is the only acceptable method for confirming suspected rabies infection. Rabies can be confused with other conditions that cause aggressive behavior, so a laboratory blood analysis must be conducted to confirm the presence of the virus.
Can cats get rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the brain and spinal cord of all mammals, including cats, dogs and humans.
There are several reported routes of transmission of the rabies virus. Rabies is most often transmitted through a bite from an infected animal. Less frequently, it can be passed on when the saliva of an infected animal enters another animal’s body through mucous membranes or an open, fresh wound.
The risk for contracting rabies runs highest if your cat is exposed to wild animals. Outbreaks can occur in populations of wild animals or in areas where there are significant numbers of unvaccinated, free-roaming dogs and cats.
Unvaccinated cats who are allowed to roam outdoors are at the highest risk for rabies infection. Outdoor cats may, in the course of daily life, get into a fight with an infected wild animal or an infected stray dog or cat. And although widespread vaccination programs have helped to control rabies in dogs, feral cat populations remain a reservoir host for the rabies virus.