Rabies in dogs

Rabies is one of the most dreaded diseases encountered by a pet owner and with good reason. It is a mostly fatal viral disease that affects the grey matter of a dog’s brain and its central nervous center. Transmission occurs through bites from an infected carrier, which may be a fox, bat or a raccoon.

When the virus enters the dogs’ body, some particles are retained in the saliva from where dissemination would be easy. The virus replicates itself in the muscles of the body and spreads through the nerves to the central nervous system. The disease develops slowly and almost takes a month to develop and from there progresses rapidly.

Some of the symptoms associated with rabies include fever, seizures, paralysis, inability to swallow, hydrophobia, lack of muscular coordination, aggressive behaviour, shyness, excessive excitability, frothy saliva, dropped jaw, change in tone of the bark.

Rabies is dangerous and even a slight suspicion should be enough to warrant a trip to the vet. Before you go to the vet, try to subdue or even better cage the dog and then take it. If you find that you are not in a position to subdue and cage the dog, contact the nearest animal control center and wait for them to cage the dog. The vet would quarantine the dog for a period of ten days, which is mandatory.

There is no cure to rabies and the only way to avoid unnecessary suffering in the animal and a sure way to eliminate the threat of further transmission of the virus is to have the dog euthanized. Sad it may be, but the pet owner can take comfort in the fact that the animal did not suffer too much.

Vaccination is compulsory for dogs in most nations and negligence on part of the owner to follow the vaccination protocol attracts hefty fines and in at least one recorded instance, an arrest warrant. A confirmed case of rabies requires you and the vet who saw the case to report it to the authorities. You would also need to disinfect the area where the dog may have infected the surface. Toddlers and children should not be allowed near such areas until disinfection is thoroughly done. In the event that your dog may have scratched or bitten you, wash the wound with warm water and soap for at least 15 minutes. You should also contact a physician who would determine the future course of action.

Since there is not known cure for the disease and an infected dog is sure to die, pet owners should take precautions. Vaccination is the first step to protect the dog. Other measures include keeping dogs under constant supervision. Never allow your pet to come in contact with strays or wild animals. If you chance upon a wild or stray animal, it is best to have it reported to the local animal control center who would then either capture it and leave it in the forests (for wild animals) or keep them at a shelter (strays).

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