Importance of a Rabies Vaccine for Pets

Depending on exactly what species of pet you have, you will probably be advised that there are a number of different vaccinations that he should have to protect him against some serious but preventable diseases and illnesses. Many of these are considered core and are given to all animals of the species, regardless of their individual circumstances. One such core vaccine that should be given to all domestic cats and dogs in the United States is the vaccine for rabies. In fact, in the rabies vaccination is a legal requirement in virtually all U.S. states.

About rabies

Although many people have heard of rabies, most are still fairly unaware of exactly what the disease is and what it means for their pet. Rabies is a deadly virus that is transmitted through contact with the saliva of an infected animal. In most cases, this is a bite or significant scratch, but it can also occur if they lick an open wound or their saliva gets into the mouth or eyes of another animal or human. It is zoonotic in nature which means that it can be spread from animals to humans. It is rare in humans, with reports from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stating that only 125 human rabies cases were reported between 1960 and 2018. However, the best way to minimize your risk and to keep your pet safe from harm is to ensure that your pet is properly vaccinated.

Whilst all animals can potentially carry the rabies virus, it is more common in some types of creature than others. This includes dogs, cats, bats, raccoons, foxes, and mongooses.

When an animal contracts the virus, it replicates in the cells of the muscles and spreads to the closest nerve fibers including the peripheral, sensory and motor nerves before spreading to the brain and causing a variety of horrifying symptoms.

Symptoms of rabies in pets

If your pet is unprotected and manages to contract rabies from an infected animal, it may take anywhere from 10 days to a month for symptoms to develop, however in most cases animals will start to exhibit signs of infection within a week. These include the following:

  • Fever

  • Seizures

  • Paralysis

  • Dropped jaw

  • Pica (eating non-food items)

  • Inability to vocalize

  • Loss of coordination

  • Excessive excitability

  • Aggression

  • Frothy saliva

Even if you suspect that your pet has been in contact with an infected animal, you should seek advice from your veterinarian immediately.

Can rabies be treated?

Unfortunately, there is no treatment nor cure for rabies once the symptoms have started to appear and since animals with the virus present such a serious threat to public health, euthanasia is usually the kindest and most effective solution.

If your pet is routinely vaccinated against rabies but is unfortunate enough to be bitten or scratched by a suspected infected animal, your pet should be given an additional rabies booster vaccination immediately and monitored closely for signs of infection for at least 45 days. However, there is a good chance that your pet will not contract the infection and will be able to go back to life as normal after his encounter.

If you would like more information about the importance of protecting your pet against rabies, our dedicated and knowledgeable veterinary experts would be happy to help. Please get in touch with our animal hospital in Lake Mary, FL today by calling 407-333-2901.