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How Do Dogs Get Rabies? Find Out Here

By
 Danica Rojero 
on 
May 16, 2021

As you know, rabies is a fatal disease that can infect both humans and animals. You may also know that domestic dogs are the most commonly reported rabid animal in the United States.

But what you may not know is how do dogs get rabies.

Dogs can be infected with rabies through contact with the saliva or nervous tissue of other infected animals, or through contact with the saliva of a rabid animal.

When dogs are infected by the rabies virus, it is usually through a bite wound, but it can also be transmitted through scratches or open wounds.

While dogs can get rabies from a bite or scratch, it's more common for the virus to enter the body through the mouth. Because rabies causes viral infection of the central nervous system

If you have a dog, then you may have been bitten or licked by your dog. Even if you have not, your dog may have been bitten or licked by another dog. If this is the case, there is a good chance that your dog has rabies.

Causes of Canine Rabies

Rabies is a virus that can severely affect the nervous system of both humans and animals, and if left untreated can be fatal.

Most people know that dogs are susceptible to the virus, but humans can also get it from dogs, cats, raccoons, foxes, and bats.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that there are only about 70 cases of human rabies in the United States each year. However, according to the Humane Society of the United States, there are only about 40,000 rabies vaccines administered each year.

This virus is transmitted to other animals by infected saliva, and it can be passed from an infected animal to a human through a bite, or if the saliva from the infected animal comes into contact with a human’s eyes, nose or mouth.

If a dog develops the infection, the first symptoms of rabies appear from 2 – 4 weeks after exposure.

Symptoms and Types of Rabies in Dogs

It is important to understand the differences between the various species of domesticated dog for rabies prevention purposes.

For instance, the search for a rabid raccoon may not be necessary in a household of raccoon-proof dogs. Without proper identification, it is possible to misdiagnose a dog with rabies and risk exposure to the virus, or miss the diagnosis altogether.

To effectively vaccinate and provide care for a dog with rabies, it is crucial to accurately identify the species.

Rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals. If you have a dog, it is important to understand the symptoms of rabies in dogs.

While rabies is not common in dogs, it can be deadly. In humans, rabies can cause death within days of the appearance of symptoms. Fortunately, there is a series of vaccines that protect dogs from the disease.

The most common symptoms of rabies in dogs include:

  • Fever
  • Dry mouth
  • Disorientation
  • Furious behavior
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite

The disease results in the destruction of the brain, and death usually occurs within days of the first symptoms, which can include fever, confusion, anxiety, agitation, lack of coordination, and abnormal behavior.

Due to the fact that rabies is such a serious disease, if you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it is important to call your vet.

Diagnosing Rabies in Dogs

There are three main ways to check for rabies: the direct fluorescent antibody test, the rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test, and the rabies virus neutralization test.

The direct fluorescent antibody test is the most commonly used method, but it can only detect the virus if it is still in the body. This means that it is important to test for rabies right away, as it could already have developed symptoms by the time a test is done.

There are two kinds of rabies tests for dogs: the direct fluorescence antibody test (dFA) and the rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test (RFFIT). (The RFFIT is also called the rapid fluorescent immunoassay test.) The RFFIT is a quicker test, but it isn't as reliable as the dFA test.

If your dog is showing rabies symptoms, you should take it to the vet for tests right away, before the symptoms get worse.

Treatment for Rabies in Dogs

If your dog has been bitten by an animal that could have rabies, you will need to get the dog vaccinated as soon as possible. However, you may need to quarantine the dog for a time to ensure that it does not have rabies.

This is true if the dog has received its rabies vaccination in the past, and is still considered safe to be around other people and animals. The length of the quarantine depends on the situation and the type of vaccine used in the dog's vaccination.

If the dog has not received the rabies vaccination in the past, the quarantine will need to be longer.

Fortunately, there are two rabies treatments that are safe for dogs. But, how do you know which one is best? Both of them work by stopping the flow of the rabies virus into the brain. They do this by forcing the virus out of the infected cells.

One option is a rabies immune globulin shot like Imrab1. This treatment comes in the form of an injection. The other option is a drug called RABITAB. It is available as oral tablets.

Last Words

If you live in an area where there is the risk of contracting rabies, it is important to keep your dog up to date on vaccinations, as they are one of the best ways to protect your pets. While there is no cure for the rabies virus once symptoms appear, early treatment can greatly increase your dog's chances of survival. The CDC recommends that your dog be tested and treated for rabies if it has been exposed to the rabies virus. A rabies vaccine is available and can be administered to dogs, cats, and ferrets, and a series of injections is almost always effective.  However, if your dog has rabies, it is too late to do anything.

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