September 28th is world rabies day and all of us at Arlington Heights Animal Hospital want to spread awareness about rabies and how to protect your pet from this devastating condition. While most people are aware of rabies, they aren’t quite sure what it is and how it can affect their pet. So, what are the symptoms of rabies in pets, and what can you do to prevent your furry friend from contracting the disease?
How Does Rabies Spread?
Rabies is a highly contagious virus that is spread through the saliva of the infected subject. Generally, rabies is transmitted through a bite; the infected saliva travels into the other animal’s bloodstream. It can even be spread by an infected animal licking the open wound of another animal. The most commonly infected wild animals include bats, coyotes, raccoons, and skunks, so it is important that you keep your pets away from these pests. However, any mammal can transmit rabies.
Symptoms of Rabies
There are a variety of symptoms associated with rabies, and they become more severe with time. These symptoms may lie dormant for 1 to 3 days after infection before they become noticeable. Some symptoms include:
- Pica – the animal will begin eating non-food items
- Lethargy – the pet will lose interest in normal activity
- Hydrophobia – this is a condition characterized by a fear of water or unwillingness to drink it
Treatment of Rabies
The symptoms can start out slow, appearing similar to a general sickness or flu, but within days one’s condition can begin to deteriorate rapidly. If your pet is exhibiting any signs of illness, you should see a vet immediately.
There is no treatment for rabies once the symptoms have appeared, and most animals who contract the virus must be euthanized.
Rabies prevention should be a priority for any pet owner. The first and most important thing to do when you get a new pet is to make sure that they receive their rabies vaccination. This vaccine is mandatory in most states. Once you’ve received the initial vaccination, you should keep up with the vaccination schedule provided to you by your vet. Doing so will help to protect your pet from the rabies virus.
Even with the vaccine, you should do your best to keep your pet away from wild animals that may have the disease. A bite from a rabid animal will still require your dog to be quarantined for up to 10 days, to get rid of any sign of the virus so that your pet will not spread it to others. Generally, a rabies booster will be given to any vaccinated animal who has been bitten, and they may even be kept under observation for 45 days.
The best way to fight rabies is to prevent it, so always make sure to follow these guidelines. Contact Arlington Heights Animal Hospital today to ensure that your pets are protected from rabies.