Rabies can affect humans and other mammals as well as dogs, and it is found throughout the world and on every continent, although countries including Australia and the UK are considered rabies-free.
Transmitted via bites, rabies can take up to a year before symptoms begin to show, although they can materialize in as little as 10 days. And if a bite does occur, the use of an anti-rabies serum can help prevent signs of the disease. When a person or animal is bitten, however, they will likely develop rabies and the chances of survival are low. Typically, a dog will die within 7 days of showing the first signs of being rabid, though some may survive to 10 days.
What Is Rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease. It can be found in wildlife but is often found in pet cats and dogs in some countries of the world. The disease is zoonotic and can be transmitted from animals to humans and between different species of animals. It is most often transmitted by bite when the saliva of the original animal gets into the bloodstream of the bitten animal.
The most common and recognizable symptoms of rabies in dogs are a behavior change and increased salivation or frothing at the mouth. The disease typically causes the dog to become aggressive, which can cause them to bite and further spread the disease to bitten parties.
Other symptoms include mobility problems, sensitivity to noise and light, and drooping of the face. It can lead to seizures, comas, and eventually death.
Unfortunately, the only way to really know for certain whether a dog is rabid is through a test of brain matter called a direct fluorescence antibody test, and this can only be done after the dog has died. Otherwise, vets will look for clinical signs of rabies, but these cannot give a definitive answer as to whether the dog really does have rabies.
Generally, there is no treatment for rabies in dogs. If a dog becomes infected, it will die if they are unvaccinated. Generally, an infected dog will die within 7 days but may live as long as 10 days, and the dog will have to be quarantined during this period.
How Do You Know When a Dog Has Rabies?
The only clinical test that can be done to determine whether a dog has rabies can only be conducted when the dog has died. Otherwise, a vet will be able to determine how likely it is according to symptoms and whether they are likely to have been bitten by an infected animal.
How Long Does It Take for Rabies to Affect a Dog?
The incubation period is the amount of time between being bitten and first showing symptoms. This period is usually around 2 weeks in dogs, but it can actually take up to a year for a dog to show the first symptoms. Once symptoms do occur, the disease spreads quickly and there is nothing that can be done to help.
Can a Dog Recover From Rabies?
Rabies is almost always fatal, although there are a handful of reported cases where the dog has recovered. There is no cure, although a serum can be administered immediately after the dog has been bitten. While there is no cure, there is a rabies vaccination, and if a vaccinated dog is bitten, a booster can be administered that will further increase its protection levels.
Can You Test a Dog for Rabies Without Killing It?
It is possible for an experienced vet to be able to determine whether a dog is likely to have rabies based on its symptoms, behaviors, and the likelihood of it having been bitten by another infected animal. However, the only clinical test that can be conducted is a direct fluorescent test. This requires the testing of parts of the brain tissue, which can only be collected and tested from a deceased animal.
What Happens if a Dog With Rabies Licks You?
The virus is transmitted from saliva to the bloodstream or mucus membrane. Bites are the most common form of the disease spreading, but if a dog with rabies does lick you and the saliva gets into an open wound or into the mucus membrane in your eyes, nose, or mouth, this will also transmit the disease.
Rabies is an ancient virus, and there are written records of it existing from earlier than 2000 BC when Babylonians were forced to pay a fine if their dog gave another animal or person the rabies virus.
Although medicine and science have come a long way since then, there is still no cure for the virus. Vaccinations that protect against rabies do exist, however, and it has been eradicated from some countries in the world. Unfortunately, a dog with rabies will almost always perish as a result of the virus, and a rabid dog should be quarantined as soon as possible to prevent further spread of the condition.
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