Rabies in dogs: What is it?
Rabies is a virus that spreads through the saliva or brain/spinal tissue of either living or dead animals. This virus is serious and causes death in every animal that begins to show symptoms. The transmission of rabies usually occurs through the bite of an infected animal.
Over the course of the infection, the rabies virus will attack the nervous system making its way to the brain. Once the infection reaches the brain of the animal, it will die.
The typical signs of rabies include:
- Behavioral changes (aggression, depression, unprovoked attacks)
- Loss of appetite or difficulty eating or drinking
- Overreacting to touch, sound or light
- Staggering or falling down with eventual paralysis
- Excessive drooling
- Biting or licking the wound site where the exposure occurred
Unfortunately, it only takes a week or so for a dog to pass away after the initial symptoms of rabies appear.
How long until my dog begins to show signs of rabies?
Commonly, dogs that contract the rabies virus will begin to show symptoms within a few weeks, but there have been documented cases of it taking up to a few months before dogs begin displaying symptoms. This makes vaccinations all the more important as well as ensuring that to notify your local health unit as well as your vet and follow any instructions that you are provided regarding your animal.
If infected, your day can begin to transmit the virus to other animals up to 10 days prior to the initial appearance of symptoms.
Can a Vaccinated Dog Get Rabies?
If you are wondering 'Can dogs get rabies after vaccination?', the unfortunate truth is yes. The rabies virus is not 100% effective but this does not mean that it does not provide a large amount of protection. It is safer for your pet to have the vaccine as opposed to living without it as the rabies virus is fairly common.
In Turlock, any dog that is exposed to the rabies virus and has received their rabies vaccinations will receive a booster shot immediately and will require a 30-day quarantine effective immediately along with being unable to interact with other animals for a further 60 days after the initial 30 day period has passed.
The restrictions related to rabies quarantine will vary between areas so you should always reach out to your local health unit for more information.
Can a vaccinated dog transmit rabies?
The odds of a vaccinated dog transmitting rabies are unlikely but are still possible. Regardless of vaccination status, any dog that has bitten a person must be quarantined for 10 days. If the dog or cat was infectious at the time of the bite, any symptoms of the virus within the animal will appear within 10 days.
The Transmission of Rabies From Dogs to Humans
Another question that our vets are commonly asked is 'Can you get rabies from a dog that has been vaccinated?'. While it is unlikely to get rabies from a vaccinated dog, there is still a slight risk. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated pets that bite a person must be quarantined for 10 days.
Preventing Dogs From Contracting Rabies
While the chances of a vaccinated dog getting rabies are low, it is not impossible. The best and easiest form of rabies prevention is to keep their vaccinations up to date. If you skip rabies booster shots, it can lead to a decrease in the efficacy of the vaccine.
Being mindful and not allowing your dog to wander off is another way you can help to ensure your pet's safety, especially at night when bats and other wildlife are most active. In Turlock, there is a good chance that bats may be rabid. One of the ways that you can protect your dog and your family is by bat-proofing your home and avoiding all contact with bats that you may see.
If your dog was bitten by any animal at all you should clean the area thoroughly, contact your vet to schedule a visit and notify your local health authority.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.