Protect Your Furry Friend: Understanding Rabies in Pets

The deadly disease known as rabies attacks the nerve systems of mammals, including people and pets. The rabies virus targets the brain and spinal cord and causes severe neurological symptoms that often result in death. This emphasizes the importance of understanding the illness, recognizing its symptoms, and taking precautions to protect ourselves and our cherished pets.

Rabies not only endangers the lives of animals but also puts human health at serious risk. Thousands of people worldwide die from rabies each year, often as a result of animal attacks. Because rabies is a fatal disease that can spread over species boundaries, it is a severe public health concern that needs to be prevented with vigilance.

dog barking

How Pets Get Rabies

Usually, through bites, an infected animal's saliva is the main way that rabies is spread. When an infected animal bites another, the virus enters the wound, replicates, and goes through the nerves, then into the brain. The rabies virus can be transmitted by wild animals like foxes, skunks, bats, and raccoons. But unvaccinated stray animals—such as dogs and cats—also pose a serious risk.

Rabies is common in pets who wander outside unattended or come into contact with wildlife. Transmission can occur from even the smallest contact with an infected animal. Understand these hazards and take precautions to reduce them: for example, keep dogs home or under careful supervision. For safety, it's best to avoid areas home to wild animals.

dog lying down

Spotting the Signs

It's critical to identify the early warning signs and symptoms of rabies in pets to take action right away. The following are some typical signs of rabies in cats and dogs:

  • Changes in behavior

Unusual friendliness, restlessness, or aggressiveness are common signs that pets might be experiencing discomfort or distress. When pets exhibit unusually high levels of affection or irritability, pay attention to their behavior and try to identify the underlying cause. They might be trying to communicate that they are feeling anxious, stressed, or in pain. 

On the other hand, increased irritability or aggressiveness could indicate that your pet is feeling overwhelmed, threatened, or in pain. They might be trying to protect themselves or their territory.

  • Paralysis

The virus affects the regular operation of muscles and nerves by attacking and damaging the nervous system. This may result in various mobility problems, such as partial paralysis and muscle weakening. Mobility problems are common in rabies-infected pets, especially in the hind legs. It may become more difficult for the afflicted animal to walk or stand as the disease worsens these neurological deficits. 

  • Excessive Salivation

A common sign of rabies is persistent drooling or foaming at the mouth, resulting from difficulty swallowing. This symptom develops from the rabies virus inflaming and paralyzing the swallowing muscles. Rabies-infected animals cannot control their saliva, which results in excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth. 

  • Fear of Water

Due to the pain and suffering the difficulty swallowing causes, pets with rabies frequently resist drinking water. This worsens the disease's symptoms of weakness and dehydration. One of the most obvious and concerning symptoms of rabies in pets is this sign, highlighting the severity of the virus's impact on their ability to perform basic functions.

  • Disorientation

As the disease progresses, infected pets exhibit difficulty maintaining balance and coordination due to disorientation and an inability to respond appropriately to their surroundings. In the final stages of the illness, uncontrollable muscle contractions and loss of consciousness become a noticeable symptom.

Since rabies symptoms may spread very quickly, it's vital to seek emergency veterinarian care if rabies is suspected. Once symptoms manifest, the condition is nearly always fatal, although early detection and treatment are important.

cat vaccine shot

Keeping Your Pet Safe

To prevent rabies in pets, a combination of immunization, close monitoring, and preventative measures is essential. For the safety of your pet, remember these essential tips:

  • Rabies Vaccine

Vaccinating your pets is the most effective approach to avoiding rabies. Make sure your pet has received their first anti-rabies vaccine at 16 weeks old and at least once a year after as required by the law. The anti-rabies vaccine for dogs and cats protects not only your pets but also lowers the chance of infecting other animals.

  • Keep Away from Wildlife

To keep wildlife out of your home and yard, monitor your pet’s outdoor activities and take security measures. Prevent attracting wild animals by establishing a safe fence and refraining from keeping pet food outside.

  • Fencing and Leash Laws

Follow the leash rules in your area and think about fencing your yard. Leash-wearing pets can also keep them away from possibly rabid animals when out for walks.

Also read: Pet Safety 101: Keep Your Furry Friend Secure Indoors & Out

  • Regular visits to the vet

Make an appointment for regular veterinary examinations. Routine health examinations make it easier to maintain updated immunization records and detect possible problems early. A healthy pet is more capable of fending off illnesses and infections.

  • Educate and Inform

Keep yourself updated on local cases of rabies. Awareness allows you to take additional safety measures in high-risk areas or during outbreaks. Knowing the local fauna and their habits can also help you avoid risky situations.

Also read: Keeping Your Dog Healthy Through the Ages: Common Health Problems in Dogs

Rabies is a deadly disease, but it is entirely preventable with the right steps. By understanding how rabies spreads, recognizing its symptoms, and taking preventive measures such as vaccinating pets and avoiding contact with wildlife, you can safeguard yourself and your pets from this devastating virus.

At Pet Express, your pets' health and well-being are our top priorities. We offer a range of pet supplies and services, including vaccines, to safeguard your furry friends from this dangerous disease. 

Protect your pet from rabies today! Visit the nearest Pet Express store or browse our collection of pet products online. Explore more tips and guides on taking care of your beloved pets here.
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