Rabies is a virus that attacks the central nervous system causing acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) Rabies can be found in dogs as well as other animals such as racoons, bats, foxes and many others.
Causes of Rabies in Dogs
It is highly contagious and lethal and is usually spread by infected animals through the exchange of saliva to blood by biting. It can also be spread by the infected animal by licking an eye, an open mouth or open wound. It is possible contract rabies by inhalation of infected air particles especially in bat caves.
Symptoms of Rabies in Dogs
The symptoms of rabies will depend from animal to animal and also on how far the virus has developed. There are number of different symptoms of which not all will be present in the rabid animal. A dog in the early stages of the infection may show no symptoms at all.
Initially the infected dog may show changes in behaviour such as:
- May become irritable
- Licking or biting the infected bite wound.
Later symptoms include:
- May overreact to light, sound and touch, often hiding in dark places.
- May show signs of pica which is a condition where the dog will have a craving to eating non-food substances such as wood, rocks or ash.
- Snapping at the air
The rabid dog may experience paralysis to the throat and jaw muscles which affects the animal’s ability to swallow. This in-turn may cause drooling and foaming from the mouth. The final stages of the virus normally end with seizures and sudden death.
Death usually occurs within ten day of the first noted symptoms.
Treatment of Rabies in Dogs
There is unfortunately to cure for rabies. An unvaccinated animal that is bitten by a rabies carrier needs to be euthanized.
If the bitten dog is not euthanized it may put into quarantine for up to 6 months depending on the state.
A vaccinated dog that is bitten by a rabid animal needs to be re-vaccinated and must be quarantined for up to 3 months.