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5 Rabies Prevention Tips for Dogs

By Hanie Elfenbein, DVM | Found on PetMD
Rabies is a scary viral disease that is transmitted through a bite or scratch—saliva or blood from an infected animal must pass into your dog’s bloodstream. Rabies can also be passed to dogs if infected saliva comes in contact with their eyes, mouth, or nose. Worldwide, dogs are the most likely animal to infect humans with rabies, due to their close contact with each other.
Once symptoms of the disease develop, rabies is fatal. There is no cure, only prevention. Here are five steps you can take to reduce the risk of your dog contracting rabies. Read more

New Rabies Guidelines

New Rabies Guidelines Published

by Dr. Jennifer Coates | Featured on PetMD
Do you think rabies has nothing to do with you and your dog or cat? You’re wrong. While the disease itself is now (thankfully) quite rare in people and pets in the United States, it is still extremely important.
A new edition of the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control has just been released and it contains some updated recommendations with regards to protocols to be followed when a pet bites a person or when a pet is bitten by a rabid or potentially rabid animal. To paraphrase:
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New Recommendation for Rabies Quarantine

New Recommendation for Rabies Quarantine

When a dog or cat bites a person, veterinarians are part of the team of health care providers who respond. Knowledge of the pet’s rabies vaccination status is critical because that factor can determine whether the pet is euthanized, strictly quarantined for many months at the owner’s expense, or only has to undergo a few weeks of monitoring.
Local laws ultimately make that determination, but the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control holds a lot of sway. This is what it has to say on the matter:

 (1) Dogs, cats, and ferrets that have never been vaccinated and are exposed to a rabid animal should be euthanized immediately. If the owner is unwilling to have this done, the animal should be placed in strict isolation for 6 months. Isolation in this context refers to confinement in an enclosure that precludes direct contact with people and other animals.
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World Rabies Day

In honor of today being World Rabies Day, we’d like to share the following information from ASPCA about Rabies. Please make sure all your pets are kept up to date with their Rabies vaccinations.

What Is Rabies?

Rabies is a virus that may affect the brain and spinal cord of all mammals, including dogs, cats and humans. Though preventable, there is good reason that the word “rabies” evokes fear in people. The disease has been reported in every state except Hawaii, and everywhere throughout the world except for Australia and Antarctica. Annually, rabies causes the deaths of more than 50,000 humans and millions of animals worldwide. Once symptoms appear, the disease results in fatality.

How Would My Dog Get Rabies?

Since animals who have rabies secrete large amounts of virus in their saliva, the disease is primarily passed to dogs through a bite from an infected animal. It can also be transmitted through a scratch or when infected saliva makes contact with mucous membranes or an open, fresh wound. The risk runs highest if your dog–or any pet–is exposed to wild animals. The most common carriers of the rabies virus in this country are bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes. In the United States, rabies is reported in cats more than in any domestic species. If there are also cats in your household, it’s important to make sure they are vaccinated and kept indoors.

What Are the General Symptoms of Rabies?

Initially, a dog who’s become infected may show extreme behavioral changes such as restlessness or apprehension, both of which may be compounded by aggression. Friendly dogs may become irritable, while normally excitable animals may become more docile. A dog may bite or snap at any form of stimulus, attacking other animals, humans and even inanimate objects. They may constantly lick, bite and chew at the site where they were bitten. A fever may also be present at this stage.
As the virus progresses, an infected dog may become hypersensitive to touch, light and sound. They may eat unusual things and hide in dark places. Paralysis of the throat and jaw muscles may follow, resulting in the well-known symptom of foaming at the mouth. Disorientation, incoordination and staggering may occur, caused by paralysis of the hind legs. Other classic signs of rabies include loss of appetite, weakness, seizures and sudden death.

How Long After Infection Do Signs of Rabies Show?

The virus usually incubates from two to eight weeks before signs are noticed. However, transmission of the virus through saliva can happen as early as ten days before symptoms appear.

Which Dogs Are Most at Risk For Contracting Rabies?

Unvaccinated dogs who are allowed to roam outdoors without supervision are most at risk for infection. They’re exposed to wild animals and have a greater chance of fighting with infected stray dogs or cats.

How Is Rabies Diagnosed?

There is no accurate test to diagnose rabies in live animals. The direct fluorescent antibody test is the most accurate test for diagnosis–but because it requires brain tissue, it can only be performed after the death of the animal.

How Is Rabies Treated?

There is no treatment or cure for rabies once symptoms appear. Since rabies presents a serious public health threat, dogs who are suspected of having the virus are most often euthanized.

How Can Rabies Be Prevented?

Keeping your dog up to date with vaccinations is not only essential to prevention, it’s the law. Check with your veterinarian about the right vaccine and vaccination schedule for your dog. In many areas of the country, it’s mandatory that all domestic dogs and cats are vaccinated after the age of three months.
Vaccinating your pet not only protects him from getting rabies, it protects him if he bites someone. Dogs who have bitten humans are required to be confined for at least 10 days to see if rabies develops, and if the animal’s vaccination records are not current, a lengthy quarantine or even euthanasia may be mandated. If you’re not sure of the laws in your town, consult your local animal affairs agency.
Avoiding contact with wild animals is also necessary to prevention. You may greatly decrease chances of rabies transmission by walking your dog on a leash, and supervising him while he’s outdoors.

What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Has Had Contact with A Rabid Animal?

Call your veterinarian for an immediate appointment! Report the incident to your local health department and follow their recommendations. You’ll also need to contact local animal control officers if the animal who bit your pet is still at large; they will be best able to safely apprehend and remove the animal from the environment. After having contact with a rabid animal, the rabies virus may remain alive on your pet’s skin for up to two hours. It is best not to touch your dog during this time. If you must handle your dog, wear gloves and protective clothing.
A dog who is up to date with his vaccinations and who has been bitten by a possibly rabid animal should also be given a rabies booster immediately and kept under observation for 45 days.

What Should I Do If I Think I’ve Been Bitten by a Rabid Animal?

Call your doctor immediately for instructions! You may need to get a series of injections in order to protect your health. Also, contact your local health department to report the bite.
Note: Do not attempt to handle or capture a wild animal, especially if he is acting strangely (i.e., a nocturnal animal who is out during the day, an animal who acts unusually tame). Report the animal to local animal control officers as soon as possible.

What Should I Do If I Come Across A Wild Animal?

Please do not attempt to capture any wild animals. In fact, it is wise to safeguard your home against wild animals in the following ways:

  • Cover or stuff holes larger than a quarter and caulk cracks that are 3/8-inch wide or larger.
  • Make sure your screens have no rips or holes.
  • Install chimney caps.
  • Use screens to cover attic vents and make sure all doors are securely shut.

Contact your local animal control or fish and wildlife department for suggestions on how to handle nuisance wildlife. If you find a dead wild animal in your home, call your local animal control agency or use thick work gloves to place the animal in a small box. Seal the box with strong tape and contact your local health department for information about where to take the animal for rabies testing.

Rabies Awareness Day – September 28

In celebration of World Rabies Awareness Day, we would like to remind you that the first step to protecting your family from rabies is getting your pets vaccinated. Not only is it required by law, but it is an easy and nearly painless way to stop the spread of this deadly virus. Make sure your pet is up-to-date with his or her rabies vaccine. If your pet’s rabies vaccination is overdue, please call our hospital so we can schedule a vaccination appointment!
Along with vaccines, it is important to educate yourself about the rabies virus. The more you know, the better you can protect your family, yourself, and your beloved pets from this deadly virus.
Rabies is carried by warm blooded animals and is typically fatal. Rabies is one of the oldest diseases known to man. Aristotle in 300 B.C. described this disease as being caused by the bite or tooth scratch of an infected animal. He further stated that once the symptoms of the disease appeared in man or animal, death occurred in a few days. This is as true today as it was in ancient times.
Rabies is transmitted through bites and less commonly, scratches. If you are bitten by any wild animal or a pet with no rabies vaccination history or out of date vaccine, you should go directly to the hospital for treatment. If possible, you should try to contain the animal that has bitten you or contact your local animal control officer to assist with the capture of the animal. If you work with wild animals regularly, you should speak to your doctor about getting vaccinated for rabies to prevent infection should you be exposed to the virus.

Keep Away From Wildlife and Unfamiliar Animals

Photo: RaccoonMore than 90% of all animal rabies cases reported to CDC each year occur in wild animals. The main animals that get rabies include raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes.
One of the best ways to protect yourself and your family is to avoid contact with wild animals. Do not feed or handle them, even if they seem friendly.
Unfamiliar animals that are often thought of as pets, such as dogs and cats, should also be avoided. These animals are often in contact with wildlife and can also transmit rabies to humans.
If you see an animal acting strangely, report it to animal control. Some things to look for are:

  • General sickness
  • Problems swallowing
  • Lots of drool or saliva
  • An animal that appears more tame than you would expect
  • An animal that bites at everything
  • An animal that’s having trouble moving or may even be paralyzed

If a wild animal is in or near your home, do not panic! Clear your family from the area and open doors and windows to allow the animal to escape on its own. If the animal doesn’t leave, call your police department or animal control officer. DO NOT try to pick up a wild animal, particularly one that is either cornered or injured. A cornered animal has the instinct to bite. One easy way to prevent wild animals from coming too close to your home is to cover and secure your garbage cans.
Some of the human rabies cases in the United States have been caused by rabies virus transmitted by bats. Awareness of the facts about bats and rabies can help people protect themselves, their families, and their pets. This information may also help clear up misunderstandings about bats. When people think about bats, they often imagine things that are not true. Bats are not blind. They are neither rodents nor birds — and most do not have rabies. And while bats have an evil reputation for sucking blood, only three out of the thousand or so species of bat actually feed on blood. These vampire bats are found only in tropical Central America, and usually feed on livestock blood.
Bats are incredibly beneficial animals and play key roles in ecosystems around the globe, from rain forests to deserts. Bats eat insects, including agricultural pests and mosquitoes. One large brown bat can consume up to 6,000 mosquitoes in one night. The best protection we can offer these unique mammals is to learn more about their habits and recognize the value of living safely with them.
Most pets that have died from rabies were either never vaccinated against rabies or never received booster vaccines. Most people that have died from rabies did not understand how to prevent rabies or the necessary post exposure protocols that needed to be taken.
On September 28th please take the time to educate your family on this serious threat and check to make sure that your companions are protected.
If you have any questions about rabies, the status of your pet’s vaccination, or any other issue, please feel free to contact us.
For complete information about rabies, visit the US Centers for Disease Control’s Rabies Website