Dog with Rabies: Dog Rabies Symptoms, Stages, Prevention and Treatment

A dog with rabies is one of the saddest and most hopeless situations, but it is also one of the most preventable. Once a dog has rabies, death is almost always certain. 

The rabies virus is carried by warm-blooded mammals, including raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes and bats and is transmitted by an infected animal biting an uninfected animal.

Let’s dig into the details…

Dog Rabies Prevention

Many holistic veterinarians believe rabies vaccinations and other vaccinations can lead to long-term illness and disease.  Due to the risk to humans and based on direction from the Centers for Disease Control, however, most local laws require your dog to be vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian.  

dog with rabies

Guess how effective the law has been…

…only HALF of all dogs and only ONE IN TEN cats are believed to be vaccinated. Pretty scary! Especially in the more rural areas where raccoons, skunks, coyotes and bats are more prevalent.

The standard protocol is to vaccinate puppies after three months of age and then again at one year. Three year vaccinations are also common. It is best to keep your dog away from other animals for a month after they receive the shot to give the vaccine enough time to kick in.

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Dog Rabies Symptoms & Stages

The following 3 stages last a total of 1 to 8 weeks in dogs with rabies: Prodromal, Furious (or excitative) and finally the paralytic phase. After the paralytic phase, the dog will usually slip into a coma or experience respiratory failure and pass away.

Prodromal Furious/Excitative “Mad Dog Syndrome”  Paralytic
Typical Duration 2 to 3 days 2 to 4 days
(not all dogs
experience this stage)
2 to 4 days
-Change in tone of bark
-Chewing at the bite site
-Loss of appetite
-Subtle changes in behavior

-Extremely mean and aggressive
-Wild; break teeth by biting objects; uncontrollable
-Constant growling/biting
-Dilated pupils

- Appearance of choking
-Dropping of the lower jaw
-Foaming at the mouth as a result of the inability to swallow
-Paralysis of jaw, throat and chewing muscles

As indicated above, increasingly worse symptoms show up with each stage of the virus.

The prodromal stage can last up to 6 months where there are almost no symptoms present. The last several days of this stage is the most dangerous time as a bite can unknowingly spread the virus. During the prodromal stage the virus slowly spreads throughout the nervous system on its way to the brain.

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What To Do if You Suspect Your Dog Has Been Bitten By a Rabid Animal

If your dog is bitten and has already been vaccinated, have them revaccinated immediately and observe them closely for 45 days. If any of the above symptoms occur, take them to the vet as soon as possible.

If your dog has NOT been vaccinated and is bitten by a potentially rabid animal, take them to the vet right away. Your vet will administer the vaccination and your dog will need to be quarantined and observed for up to 6 months.

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What To Do if an Animal or Dog with Rabies Has Bitten a Person?

First, you need to find out if the animal or dog does in fact have rabies. Assuming it is safe to do so, cage the animal and take it to the vet for testing. If the animal is found to have been properly vaccinated, it should be observed for 10 days. If not, it should be held for up to 6 months and vaccinated at least one month prior to release.

If the animal either cannot be captured or is captured and found to have rabies, a 5 shot post exposure series of Human Rabies Immune Globulin can be given to exposed people. There is also a special vaccine available for people in high-risk areas.

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