When Dogs Have Rabies

Pay close attention to your dog’s behavior and call your veterinarian right away if you have any reason to suspect rabies if your dog has been bitten by another animal and you are concerned about rabies.

Your dog might exhibit hostility while also quickly becoming agitated and restless. Animals that are rabid may also exhibit unusually warm behavior. Similar to this, your dog could appear relaxed and uninterested if they are typically joyful and excited. Fever, trouble swallowing, excessive drooling, staggering, convulsions, and even paralysis are physical indicators of rabies in dogs.

Your dog may exhibit overstimulated behavior as the infection worsens, making lights, movement, and sound appear to be distressing. They can want to hide in a quiet, dark area or show violent behavior.

Foaming at the mouth is one of the most well-known signs of canine rabies. Some canines may drool excessively or exhibit excess saliva instead of foaming. This indicates that the virus has advanced. Seizures and progressive paralysis are frequent in the later stages of rabies. In this stage, dogs struggle to control their muscles, particularly those in their head and throat, which makes swallowing challenging. Eventually, it becomes impossible to breathe, which results in death.

Weeks may pass before symptoms appear in your dog after contracting the illness. The incubation period might be somewhat shorter or longer, although most cases in dogs manifest between 21 and 80 days following exposure. It is crucial to call your veterinarian as soon as your dog has been bitten as rabies cannot be cured once symptoms appear.

Can dogs recover from rabies?

At the age of 15, Jeanna Geise became the first known case of rabies that had not been prevented by vaccination. Her amazing survival has not only cast doubt on an established scientific fact, but has also given rise to the Milwaukee Protocol, a novel form of rabies therapy. For a very long time, it was believed that unvaccinated humans would always die from rabies. To the surprise of the medical community, Jeanna demonstrated that the lethal virus can be defeated without vaccine.

To fully appreciate the significance of Jeanna’s case, it is first necessary to have some prior knowledge on rabies. Every continent, with the exception of Antarctica, is home to the rabies virus, which annually claims the lives of approximately 55,000 individuals. Fortunately, the Rabies vaccine makes rabies in humans completely avoidable (first created by Louis Pasteur). The vaccination can be given either prior to or following rabies exposure. Pre-exposure vaccinations should be given to anyone who have a high risk of coming into contact with rabies or rabid animals, such as veterinarians or laboratory employees. All individuals, including those who have already received a vaccination, who have come into touch with potentially rabid animals are advised to get vaccinated after exposure. However, the post-exposure vaccine must be given before to the onset of symptoms in order for it to be effective. If this is not the case, an infected person is only expected to survive seven days after the onset of symptoms.

Contact with the saliva of an animal that has the rabies virus can spread the disease. At her church on September 12, 2004, Jeanna attempted to save a rabid bat when it bit her on the left index finger. Her mother then went on to clean her wound, as recommended by WHO, although she was unaware that her daughter required a vaccination. As a result, as soon as Jeanna displayed symptoms, her future was decided in the eyes of the medical community. Rabies first causes flu-like symptoms like fatigue, fever, headaches, and general discomfort. On October 13, Jeanna experienced severe exhaustion, and the following day, she had double vision. Excessive salivation, hydrophobia (fear of water caused by difficulties swallowing), hallucinations, and agitation are well-known signs of rabies that often manifest “few days before death.” On October 18, Jeanna was taken by ambulance to the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin with slurred speech, a fever, and vomiting. The CDC examined a skin sample from her neck and discovered that it contained rabies. Jeanna’s future looked bleak. Prior to Jeanna’s arrival, Dr. Willoughby, a pediatric infectious disease expert at the hospital, had read up on rabies-related medical literature. Fortunately for Jeanna, he had developed a brand-new radical concept as a result of his readings. According to his findings, excitotoxicity, which overstimulates the brain and kills cells, rather than “destroying neurons or inflaming the brain,” is how rabies actually kills. Dr. Willoughby also came to the conclusion that, if given enough time before the virus infects the person’s brain, the immune system can successfully battle it. It was only a matter of time before Rabies infected Jeanna’s brain; this was necessary for her survival. Dr. Willoughby gathered a group of specialists to talk about his hypothesized treatment strategy, eventually known as the Milwaukee Protocol. The technique required that Jeanna be placed into a coma in order to preserve her brain and give her immune system time to function. Doctors debated whether to induce a coma as they considered the potential consequences. Would Jeanna wake up severely crippled even if they managed to save her life? Her parents were left to make the difficult choice, and they decided to follow the novel protocol.

Jeanna received a number of medications from the doctors, including ribavirin and amantadine, two antiviral pills named ketamine and midazolam, and ketamine to protect her brain against rabies and prevent hallucinations. A spinal tap six days after the initial administration of the medication cocktail showed that Jeanna’s body was manufacturing rabies antibodies, an encouraging sign of her physical recovery. After being brought out of her coma, Jeanna was sent to rehabilitation where she had to relearn how to walk, stand, talk, and other skills. Despite the earlier concerns of her doctors, Dr. Willoughby claims that Jeanna is now “very much normal” and has just earned her college degree. She still struggles with running and balance, and speaks more slowly than she did before contracting rabies, among other long-lasting symptoms.

The Milwaukee Protocol, which was originally used on Jeanna, is now known all over the world as a way to potentially save rabies victims who have not received a vaccination. However, despite the remarkable recovery Jeanna had, there has been considerable debate over the method’s efficacy. Only 6 of the 41 patients who underwent the Protocol so far are still alive. Therefore, why do some patients make it while others do not? Some scientists question whether the Protocol itself is the cause of the patients’ survival. According to recent studies, people may actually be able to survive rabies without a vaccine or medical intervention. Seven out of the 63 individuals tested positive for rabies antibodies in a research conducted in Peru (where vampire bats, a known rabies carrier, are widespread). The study was led by Amy Gilbert of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only one of those seven individuals had previously received the rabies vaccine. This indicated that the other six had survived because they had developed antibodies on their own after being exposed to the virus.

Additional research also backs up the idea that people can survive rabies. There are no other known viruses that have a 100% mortality rate in humans. So, is Rabies really the only anomaly, as we assume it to be? Even in carriers, the rabies virus doesn’t always result in death; 14% of dogs live. Even bats can endure. Researchers have also proposed the possibility that the six human survivors may have contracted a weaker form of the rabies virus, which allowed their immune systems to defend themselves. This is feasible because various virus strains are carried by various animals. It is still unclear why some people successfully fight off the world’s worst virus while others fail to do so until further research on the Milwaukee Protocol and rabies in general is conducted. But in the meanwhile, I will unquestionably request the Milwaukee Protocol if I become infected with rabies (which I’d prefer not to do) and for some reason don’t get the vaccination in time. Any chance of survival is preferable to none.

*Dr. Willoughby has stated that he would like to test his approach on animals, but there has been no research done to far.

How long before a dog exhibits rabies symptoms?

One of the most severe viral infections to affect mammals, including dogs and people, is rabies. It is a lethal illness brought on by rabies virus infection. All around the planet, including North America, Central and South America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and some regions of Europe, the rabies virus is present. The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Ireland, Iceland, some Pacific Islands, Antarctica, and portions of Scandinavia are among the many regions of the world that are rabies-free.

How is rabies transmitted?

When one infected animal bites another, the virus is spread. Transmission by a different method is uncommon.

In North America, the skunk, fox, raccoon, coyote, and bat are significant carriers of the disease, whereas foxes are the primary reservoir in Europe. The primary reservoir is not animals but rather stray canines in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Human infections and mortality are more frequent in these regions. Following the bite, the rabies virus enters the host animal’s peripheral nerves, reproduces, and travels to the salivary glands. Peripheral nerves are any nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. In this instance, saliva contains the virus. The rabies virus is short lived outside of a mammal’s body.

How long is the incubation period?

The incubation period (the stretch of time before clinical symptoms manifest) can last anywhere from ten days to a year or more. The incubation period in dogs normally lasts between two and four months. The following factors affect how quickly clinical symptoms appear:

1. The infection location – the virus spreads more quickly to neural tissue the closer the bite is to the brain and spinal cord.

2. How bad the bite was.

3. The quantity of virus that the bite released.

What are the clinical signs?

The illness develops gradually after being bitten by a rabid animal. The dog’s attitude changes noticeably during the prodromal phase (initial phase). Active pets grow anxious or timid, whereas quiet animals become irritated. This stage can last two to three days.

Following this stage, the clinical disease might take one of two known forms:

When a rabid dog exhibits signs of a depraved appetite, such as devouring and chewing on rocks, dirt, and trash, it develops furious rabies (pica). The rabid animal eventually goes into paralysis and might not be able to eat or drink. Fear of water, or hydrophobia, is not a symptom of canine rabies. It is a characteristic of human rabies. Finally the dog has a massive seizure and dies.

In dogs, dumb rabies is the more prevalent kind. Progressive paralysis of the limbs, facial deformation, and swallowing difficulties are all present. Dog owners frequently believe their pets have an obstruction in their mouth or throat. Examining should be done carefully because saliva can spread rabies. The dog eventually goes into a coma and passes away.

Is it possible to survive a bite from a rabid animal?

There are sporadic and shoddy accounts of both people and dogs surviving. In certain instances, there might not have been much rabies virus in the saliva when the rabid animal bit the human. The sufferer in this case might not contract rabies.

However, Louis Pasteur was the first to demonstrate that the administration of anti-rabies serum soon after a bite can halt the progression from an infected bite to the onset of symptoms. This antiserum has particular antiviral immune antibodies in it. Giving a dose of the rabies vaccine is the most crucial way to stop rabies from spreading. The vaccine encourages the animal that has been bitten to produce its own rabies virus-neutralizing antibodies. The likelihood of survival is low in the absence of immunization and prompt post-exposure care.

Is vaccination effective?

The mainstay of rabies prevention is vaccination. Although vaccination encourages the formation of antibodies, it only works if it is administered prior to the virus invading the nervous system. Dog, cat, horse, and ferret rabies immunizations now are very secure and efficient.

What is the treatment for rabies?

A dog with rabies cannot be treated. The dog must be maintained in isolation and restricted from escaping or hurting someone if rabies is suspected.

A 10-day quarantine of the dog will be enforced since a dog shedding the rabies virus in the saliva will show clinical symptoms in a matter of days. After 10 days, a dog that is healthy or normal is no longer regarded as contagious at the moment of the bite. According to the legislation, your veterinarian must alert the regional, national, or provincial animal disease regulatory agencies. These authorities will choose the actions required to safeguard the public in the right way.

Can I catch rabies?

Yes, the illness is contagious (can be transmitted from an animal to humans). Only a rabid animal’s bite can cause it to spread. Only briefly does the virus remain in the infected animal’s saliva.

If you are bitten by an animal that may be carrying the rabies virus, you should seek emergency medical attention and wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water.

The World Health Organization updated its recommendations for rabies vaccination and post-exposure care in February 2018. Those who have been bitten and have never had rabies vaccinations should get immunoglobulin (antibody) right away, then a series of shots. Those who have already had vaccinations do not need immunoglobulin, but they will still need numerous shots to protect themselves from the virus.

When should my dog be vaccinated?

For dogs, cats, horses, and ferrets, a number of rabies vaccines have been licensed. Between the ages of twelve and sixteen weeks, all dogs and cats should have a vaccination. Rabies vaccine is typically required in the US and Canada. Rabies booster shots are also necessary, and state or provincial laws determine how frequently this vaccination is administered. Your veterinarian can help you get the required permits for your pet and also advise you on the proper revaccination intervals.

How does rabies affect dogs?

Although it is unlikely that a dog with rabies vaccine will develop the disease, immunization does not provide complete immunity. Our veterinarians from Plainfield Animal Hospital provide further information about rabies in today’s post and outline what to do if you believe your dog may have been exposed.

What is rabies?

A virus that causes the potentially fatal disease rabies can spread from an infected mammal to any other mammal, including humans, pets, livestock, and wild animals, through saliva. If a rabid animal bites your pet, or if your pet gets saliva, brain, or spinal tissue from an infected animal — dead or alive — in their eyes, nose, mouth, or an open cut, they could become rabid.

The central nervous system is impacted by the rabies virus. Some of the most prevalent signs of rabies in animals include:

  • Behavioral alterations (aggression, depression, unprovoked attacks)
  • appetite loss or issues with eating or drinking
  • reacting excessively to touch, sound, or light
  • stagger or collapse, eventually paralyzed
  • excessive salivation
  • licking or biting the area of the wound where the exposure took place

Almost always, rabies is lethal. Animals usually pass away 7–10 days after exhibiting symptoms.

What is the incubation period of rabies?

The interval between being exposed to the rabies virus and the onset of the disease’s symptoms is known as the incubation period.

The majority of the time, your pet will start to exhibit symptoms of the illness two weeks after exposure, but symptoms can occasionally take many months to manifest. This is why it’s crucial to vaccinate your dog and carefully adhere to any guidance provided by your local public health unit if you suspect your pet may have been exposed.

Up to 10 days before exhibiting any symptoms of the illness, a rabies-infected pet can spread the virus to humans and other animals.

Does the rabies vaccine prevent rabies in dogs?

Although the rabies vaccine is quite efficient in preventing canine rabies, it cannot provide complete protection.

If your dog is protected against rabies and is exposed to it in South Plainfield, they will get a booster shot right soon, go into a rigorous quarantine for 30 days, and then need to be confined by their owner (leashed and kept away from other animals or people) for another 60 days.

States and counties have different quarantine and detention policies. Always notify your veterinarian and the local public health unit of any possible rabies exposures, and carefully follow their instructions.

Can you get rabies from a dog that has been vaccinated?

While getting rabies from a dog that has received vaccinations is improbable, there is still a small chance. Pets that bite a person must be quarantined for ten days, whether they have had their vaccinations or not. The onset of rabies symptoms in an animal, if the dog or cat was contagious at the time of the bite, usually happens relatively quickly—certainly within 10 days.

How can I prevent my dog from contracting rabies?

Maintaining your dog’s immunization schedule is the greatest way to prevent them from developing rabies.

Additionally, you should never let your pet roam unattended, particularly at night when bats and other creatures are most active. The majority of rabid bats are found in South Plainfield. It is advisable to bat-proof your home and to avoid handling, capturing, or keeping wild bats as pets.

If you or your pet is bitten, wash the bite wounds vigorously with soap and water as soon as you can. Then, call the proper authorities right once.

Please take note that the information in this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice for animals. Please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a precise diagnosis of your pet’s illness.