Rabies in Dogs
How Is Rabies Treated?
There is no treatment or cure for rabies once symptoms appear. Since rabies presents a serious public health threat, dogs who are suspected of having the virus are most often euthanized.
How Can Rabies Be Prevented?
Keeping your dog up to date with vaccinations is not only essential to prevention, it’s the law. Check with your veterinarian about the right vaccine and vaccination schedule for your dog. In many areas of the country, it’s mandatory that all domestic dogs and cats are vaccinated after the age of three months.
Vaccinating your pet not only protects him from getting rabies, it protects him if he bites someone. Dogs who have bitten humans are required to be confined for at least 10 days to see if rabies develops, and if the animal’s vaccination records are not current, a lengthy quarantine or even euthanasia may be mandated. If you’re not sure of the laws in your town, consult your local animal affairs agency.
Avoiding contact with wild animals is also necessary to prevention. You may greatly decrease chances of rabies transmission by walking your dog on a leash, and supervising him while he’s outdoors.
What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Has Had Contact With a Rabid Animal?
Call your veterinarian for an immediate appointment! Report the incident to your local health department and follow their recommendations. You’ll also need to contact local animal control officers if the animal who bit your pet is still at large; they will be best able to safely apprehend and remove the animal from the environment. After having contact with a rabid animal, the rabies virus may remain alive on your pet’s skin for up to two hours. It is best not to touch your dog during this time. If you must handle your dog, wear gloves and protective clothing.
A dog who is up to date with his vaccinations and who has been bitten by a possibly rabid animal should also be given a rabies booster immediately and kept under observation for 45 days.
What Should I Do If I Think I've Been Bitten by a Rabid Animal?
Call your doctor immediately for instructions! You may need to get a series of injections in order to protect your health. Also, contact your local health department to report the bite.
Note: Do not attempt to handle or capture a wild animal, especially if he is acting strangely (i.e., a nocturnal animal who is out during the day, an animal who acts unusually tame). Report the animal to local animal control officers as soon as possible.
What Should I Do if I Come Across a Rabid Animal?
Please do not attempt to capture any wild animals. In fact, it is wise to safeguard your home against wild animals in the following ways:
- Cover or stuff holes larger than a quarter and caulk cracks that are 3/8-inch wide or larger.
- Make sure your screens have no rips or holes.
- Install chimney caps.
- Use screens to cover attic vents and make sure all doors are securely shut.
Contact your local animal control or fish and wildlife department for suggestions on how to handle nuisance wildlife. If you find a dead wild animal in your home, call your local animal control agency or use thick work gloves to place the animal in a small box. Seal the box with strong tape and contact your local health department for information about where to take the animal for rabies testing.