When it comes to pet health conditions, few are as dangerous as rabies. This viral disease is often transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, wherein their infected saliva or blood is transmitted into the new animal’s bloodstream through the wound. While rabies can be effectively prevented against and can often be resolved if caught at immediate onset, it is completely fatal once symptoms have developed. It is therefore appropriate that in observance of World Rabies Day, pet owners learn how pets get rabies and how to prevent their pet from contracting this disease.
The most effective rabies treatment is prevention. Following are five ways to help protect your pet against rabies:
- Ensure their rabies vaccination is up-to-date. All states require that pets have current rabies vaccinations, but the type and length of rabies vaccinations that are required can vary widely–some may be good for one year, while others are good for three years. It is absolutely essential that you know what type of rabies vaccination your pet has received and when they are due for a new one so that you can ensure their vaccination never lapses. That said, even if your pet’s rabies vaccination is current it is still prudent to bring them to the veterinarian if you suspect they have been exposed to an infected animal–especially if they have been bitten.
- Avoid all contact with injured or dead wildlife. It is important to recognize that wild animals can be affected with rabies without clearly demonstrating any signs or symptoms of the disease. It is therefore essential that no human or pet is allowed to have any contact with injured or dead wildlife unless the adult human has proper protection (like gloves) and is intending to safely dispose of it.
- Supervise your dog when he is outdoors. Since dogs enjoy chasing other animals, they are more likely to get bitten or scratched by an infected animal if left unsupervised. While supervising your dog outdoors, keep an eye out for any animals that are behaving in an odd manner, are acting aggressive, agitated or disoriented, and quickly remove your dog from the area if you see such an animal.
- Report any sick or dead animals you notice. While there may be a rare situation that it is prudent for you to remove a sick or dead animal from its current location, it is best to turn to the professionals at animal control whenever possible. Not only can they safely remove the sick or dead animal, they can also test it for rabies and issue any alerts that are necessary to help local pet owners protect their pets. If you cannot get ahold of animal control, contact the local police on their non-emergency number.
- Learn more about how rabies can affect you and your pets in your local area. When helping to prevent your pet from contracting rabies, it can be enormously helpful to understand what types of pets in your local area are most likely to carry infection and how best to avoid them. Bats are an incredibly common rabies host across the entire country, while skunks and raccoons are common rabies hosts in specific parts of the country. Your local health department can help to keep you informed about the rabies situation in your area, and how best to avoid it.
Secondary treatment after infection and before the full symptoms of rabies develop can sometimes meet with success. These symptoms include fever, headache, weakness, discomfort, insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia. Any pet displaying these symptoms should be brought to the veterinarian immediately and without delay.
Remember that protecting your pet with up-to-date vaccinations and supervision is the easiest and most effective things you can do to prevent rabies.