Dog Disease - Rabies disease in dogs

Rabies is a serious viral disease which affects the warm-blooded animals including human beings. It damages the central nervous system, brain and spinal cord, ultimately leading to death. This disease mainly affects wild animals like bats, raccoons and skunks but domestic animals such as dogs and cats are not safe either. Dogs normally die within a week of the appearance of symptoms.

Causes of rabies
This virus is transmitted through the saliva of infected animal. This may either be due to contact with the eye, nose or mouth or due to a bite from the host. The infected saliva travels to the brain through the nerves and spinal cord. The virus stays in the body for 3-8 weeks showing no signs of the disease. The symptoms of rabies begin to appear after the brain is infected by rabies and the virus spreads to the salivary glands after multiplication.

Symptoms of Rabies
The symptoms of rabies may vary in dogs. These may initially include:
  • Behavior and personality changes
  • Anxiety
  • Shyness
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Licking the site of the bite
  • As the disease proceeds, the symptoms include:
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Overreaction to things and noises
  • Full blown aggression
  • Disorientation followed by seizures
  • Inability to swallow
  • Excess salivation
  • Respiratory distress
Unfortunately these symptoms are soon followed by death.

Diagnosis of Rabies
The only possible way to diagnose rabies in canine is through a direct fluorescent antibody test using samples of brain tissue. Unfortunately this can only be carried out after the death of the animal as brain tissues can be obtained after the death. Diagnosis in live animals can only be presumed and not confirmed depending upon the clinical signs and patient history. The pets, especially the unvaccinated pets, which are exposed to rabies, are quarantined in order to watch for symptoms of rabies.

Treatment of Rabies
If a dog is bitten by an infected animal, he can be saved by an immediate trip to the vet for a number of injections. Unfortunately, once the symptoms appear there is no cure or treatment. Dogs suffering from rabies will need to be euthanized. This is in order to avoid suffering to the animal and to prevent transmission of disease in other animals. However, rabies can be prevented by annual rabies vaccination. It is important to note that law demands rabies vaccines in most areas and failure to do so may lead to unnecessary fines.