rabies in dogs

Rabies In Dogs: Causes And Symptoms

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Hearing the word ‘rabies’ is one of our worst nightmares as pet parents. This condition affects animals primarily; however, it can affect all mammals, including humans. It is a virus secreted by saliva that directly attacks the nervous system and can even cause death. Dogs are one of the most affected mammals, so prevention is key.


It is an extremely dangerous condition that can be fatal, so knowing it inside out is essential. Yearly, more than 60,000 people die from Rabies around the world.

  • Fever
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Change in attitude and behavior
  • Seizures
  • Dropped jaw
  • Lack of coordination
  • Paralysis

Even though the symptoms are pretty singular and usually appear after a bite, there is no way to know for certain if a dog has rabies. The only way to test it is by examination of brain tissue.

Throughout all U.S. (except in Hawaii), vaccination against rabies is mandatory.

Stages of rabies

Paying attention and making a follow-up when the first symptoms appear is essential. Remember that rabies is a zoonic disease, which means it can be transmitted from dogs to humans.

First/Prodromal stage: It lasts approximately 1 to 3 days, and it’s characterized by a change of behavior or attitude in your dog. Also, fever can appear. However, the symptoms may remain a bit unspecific yet, making it hard to diagnose.

Second/Excitative stage: Also known as the furious stage, during these days dogs can turn a bit aggressive and can overreact to every external stimulus they might have (light, sounds, etc.)

Third/Paralytic stage: During this stage, dogs might experience facial and throat paralysis which can cause difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, dropped jaw, and lack of coordination.


Rabies is often passed through the saliva of an infected animal, so it can be caught by a bite, or rarely through licking if there is an open wound. As most domestic animals in the U.S. are vaccinated, it is more likely to come from exposure to wild animals like foxes, bats, and raccoons. If your dog was bitten by another animal, don’t hesitate, take him to the vet to check him asap.

Take into account that the incubation period is not always the same. Actually, the virus can develop within 80 days after it entered the body.

Is there a treatment for rabies?

Unfortunately, there is no available treatment for rabies. If a dog is suspected of having the disease, he is put in isolation to avoid further contagion. Sadly, most forms of rabies are fatal, so the infected animals usually die within a week after the first symptoms appeared.

Vaccination is the only preventive existing treatment to fight it, but it only works if the animal received the vaccine before catching the disease. Vaccination against Rabies is mandatory throughout the U.S. (except in Hawaii).

Nowadays, approximately 400 cases of rabies are reported yearly among domestic animals in the U.S. Although the number is low, it’s much more than zero. So if you haven’t done it yet, get your pup his vaccine and keep him safe and sound. 😊

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