World Rabies Day: What Pets And Owners Should Know

September 28, 2011
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Today is World Rabies Day, a day that was created to raise awareness about rabies and what can be done to eradicate it. In the United States, many pets are vaccinated against rabies and because of that, only one death since 2007 has been attributed to rabies.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a disease that is fatal and transmitted by an infected animal biting a non-infected animal. The virus is spread through the saliva and travels through the nervous system to the spinal cord to the brain.

Symptoms of rabies can vary and the stages of rabies may differ from animal to animal but many will have behavioral changes, show more anxiety, and withdraw from people and other animals. As the disease progresses, the infected animal may become restless and agitated which can lead to aggression and disorientation. The final stages of rabies often include respiratory distress and inability to swallow, and finally, death.

Preventing Rabies

So what can we do to prevent the spread of the disease? Many of us who own pets have gotten them a rabies shot. Skunks, raccoons, and other wild animals may have the disease and vaccinating protects our pets in case they ever come face to face with an infected animal. Aside from vaccinating, we can also do the following to protect our pets and ourselves:

1: Minimize exposure to wooded areas and do not allow your pet to roam out of your sight. Keep your dog on a leash when hiking and camping.

2: Learn about dog bite prevention and teach your family how to approach and not approach strange dogs and cats.

3: Do not keep wild animals as pets in or around your house. Do not feed raccoons in your yard or let the skunk continue to dig through your trash.

4: If your pet or you gets bitten by another animal, see a vet immediately and doctor immediately.


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