Rabies in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatments


Rabies is a severe, and typically fatal, viral polioencephalitis that particularly impacts the gray matter of the dog’s brain and its main nerve system (CNS). The primary method the rabies virus is sent to dogs in the United States is through a bite from a disease provider: foxes, raccoons, skunks, and bats. Contagious infection particles are kept in a wild animal’s salivary glands to better distribute the infection through their saliva.

When the virus goes into the dog’s body, it replicates in the cells of the muscles, then spreads to the closest nerve fibers, consisting of all peripheral, sensory and motor nerves, taking a trip from there to the CNS by means of fluid within the nerves. The infection can use up to a month to establish, once the symptoms have actually started, the infection progresses rapidly.

This inflammatory infection also has zoonotic qualities and can for that reason be sent to people.

Symptoms and Types of Rabies in Dogs

There are two forms of rabies: paralytic and furious. In the early symptom (prodomal) stage of rabies infection, the dog will reveal just moderate signs of CNS problems. This stage will last from one to three days. The majority of dogs will then advance to either the furious stage, the paralytic stage, or a combination of the two, while others catch the infection without displaying any major symptoms.

Furious rabies is defined by extreme behavioral modifications, including overt hostility and attack habits. Paralytic rabies, likewise described as dumb rabies, is characterized by weakness and loss of coordination, followed by paralysis.

This is a fast-moving infection. If it is not dealt with not long after the symptoms have actually begun, the diagnosis is bad. Therefore, if your dog has remained in a battle with another animal, or has actually been bitten or scratched by another animal, or if you have any reason to believe that your family pet has come into contact with a rabid animal (even if your family pet has been vaccinated against the virus), you must take your dog to a veterinarian for preventive care right away.

The following are some of the symptoms of rabies to watch for in your dog:

  • Pica
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Hydrophobia
  • Jaw is dropped
  • Failure to swallow
  • Change in tone of bark
  • Muscular lack of coordination
  • Unusual shyness or aggression
  • Excessive excitability
  • Consistent irritability/changes in attitude and habits
  • Paralysis in the mandible and larynx
  • Extreme salivation (hypersalivation), or frothy saliva

Causes of Canine Rabies

The rabies infection is a single-stranded RNA infection of the genus Lyssavirus, in the family Rhabdoviridae. It is transferred through the exchange of blood or saliva from an infected animal, and extremely rarely through breathing in the leaving gasses from disintegrating animal carcasses. Contracting the virus in this method is unusual but it can take place, frequently in caverns with large populations of bats, where the infection is widespread. This may be an issue for searching dogs.

Diagnosing Rabies in Dogs

If you suspect your dog has rabies, call your vet right away. If it is safe to do so, cage, or otherwise subdue your dog, and take it to a vet to be quarantined. If your pet is acting viciously, or is trying to attack, and you feel you are at risk of being bitten or scratched, you should call animal control to catch your dog for you.

Your vet will keep your dog quarantined in a locked cage for 10 days. This is the only acceptable technique for confirming presumed rabies infection.

Rabies can be confused with other conditions that cause aggressive behavior, so a lab blood analysis should be performed to verify the existence of the virus. However, blood screening for the infection is not veterinary procedure.

Medical diagnosis in the U.S. is done using a post-mortem direct fluorescence antibody test carried out by a state-approved lab for rabies diagnosis. Your vet will gather fluid samples if your dog passes away while in quarantine, or if it starts revealing progressive signs of rabies; where case, your veterinarian will choose to put your dog to sleep (or euthanize it.)

Treatment for Rabies in Dogs

If your dog has actually been vaccinated versus rabies, offer proof of vaccination to your vet. If anyone entered into contact with the dog’s saliva, or were bitten by your dog, advise them to call a doctor instantly for treatment. Regrettably, rabies is constantly deadly for unvaccinated animals, typically happening within 7 to 10 days from when the initial symptoms started.

If a medical diagnosis of rabies is verified you will need to report the case to your local health department. An unvaccinated dog that is bitten or exposed to a recognized rabid animal must be quarantined for approximately six months, or according to local and state policies. A vaccinated animal that has bitten or scratched a human, on the other hand, ought to be quarantined and kept an eye on for 10 days.

Living and Management

Decontaminate any area the animal may have infected (specifically with saliva) utilizing a 1:32 dilution (4 ounces to a gallon) of family bleach solution to quickly suspend the virus. Do not allow yourself to come into contact with your dog’s saliva.

If your dog has swallowed a things, do not reach into its mouth without taking safety measures. Saliva can enter into your skin through an unintentional scratch, putting you at risk of contracting the infection.


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