Dog Rabies

Help! My Dog Came in Contact With a Rabid Animal

You share a home with them, they’re in your holiday card, and truly are considered a member of your family. But, as much as we consider our four-legged family members one of our own, at the end of the day they are still animals. And, as animals do, your dog may come into contact with other animals from time to time, including wild and non-domesticated animals – which means they need protection from the nasty diseases they can carry. 

By keeping up with your dog’s vaccinations – including rabies vaccinations – you can help protect your pup from harmful viruses and diseases, rabies included. But what exactly is rabies, and what happens to your vaccinated (or non-vaccinated) dog if they come into contact with an animal with the virus? The result can be disastrous – but completely preventable. Read on as we explain. 

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus that attacks the brain and nervous system of dogs, wild animals, and even humans if exposed. Animals contract rabies when bitten, or come into contact with, the saliva of an infected animal, most commonly being wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes.  

Once bitten by an infected animal, rabies enters a dog’s body and travels to the brain, while attacking the nervous system over a period of three days to upwards of twelve weeks. 

Common signs your pup has been exposed to the virus include:

  • A new bite wound because rabies is passed through biting and contact of saliva, the first potential indication is a new bite wound. 
  • Increased aggression – an early sign of a rabies infection is increased aggression, which includes biting and/or snapping at people or other animals.  
  • A fever – to check if your pup has a fever, you can either feel their body or use a pet thermometer. 
  • Lethargy – if your pup has low energy and is generally lethargic, and has come into contact with an infected animal, it could be an early sign of rabies. 
  • Excessive drooling – excessive drooling or “foaming at the mouth” can be a common, telltale sign that your pet may be infected with rabies. 

What Happens if My Dog Contracts Rabies?

If you think your dog may have come into contact with a rabid animal, contact your veterinarian or emergency hotline immediately, as time is of the essence. If your dog has received the rabies vaccine (and is up to date on their vaccinations), your vet can help by administering a rabies vaccine booster to prevent any symptoms from starting. 

However, once symptoms appear, there’s no way to treat rabies in dogs. So unfortunately, if your pet has not been vaccinated for the rabies virus, they’ll likely need to be euthanized by an animal healthcare professional because there is no USDA-licensed cure or treatment for post-exposure in domestic animals. 

Which brings us to our final point…

Prevent Your Pet Against Rabies

It’s important to remember that rabies is entirely preventable, so long as you keep your pup up-to-date with their vaccinations. Schedule regular vet visits and keep up with yearly (or every three-year) rabies vaccinations to protect your pup from a completely avoidable disaster. 

If you think your dog has come into contact with a rabid animal, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and contact your vet or pet emergency health center immediately. A quick check up could be the difference between their life and death. 

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