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Rabies in dogs
Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). It can affect any mammal, dogs and humans included. Rabies is not only dangerous for dogs, it is usually deadly for humans as well, and only a very limited number of infected humans have survived the infection, most of them with permanent brain damage as a result. If you have been bitten by an infected animal, you can however prevent the disease from breaking out by seeking medical attention and receiving a full rabies vaccination. The vaccination must naturally be administered soon after the bite to be effective. Since rabies is dangerous for humans, rabies in dogs is considered a health hazard and most countries have rules requiring infected dogs to be put to sleep.
In many parts of the world, all dogs have to be vaccinated against rabies to prevent them from spreading the disease to humans and animals. There are several rabies-free jurisdictions in the world, and these countries and regions normally have really strict regulations when it comes to taking dogs and other animals across their borders. In January 2006, Australia, Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan/ROC, and the United Kingdom were considered rabies free.
Rabies in dogs is often the result of the dog being bitten by another dog, but a long row of wild animals are also known to transmit the disease. Bats, racoons, foxes, wolves, monkeys, skunks and weasels can for instance have rabies. Cats and domestic farm animals can also have and transmit rabies. Rabies is uncommon in rodents, rabbits and squirrels. Bites are not necessary to transmit rabies; the virus can also be transmitted via an aerosol through mucous membranes.
When a dog develops dog rabies, the virus is normally present in its saliva and in the nerves. Rabies in dogs can make them highly aggressive and cause them to attack without any apparent reason. The dog's brain will deteriorate and the dog will behave more and more bizarre and out of character.
If your dog gets bitten by another dog – especially if the dog is unknown – you should contact a veterinarian immediately. If your dog receives rabies vaccination in time, this can halt the progress of the disease. The same is naturally true if your dog is bitten by any other mammals that might be carrying the rabies virus. The veterinarian will treat your dog immediately, without waiting for any signs of illness.
If you suspect that a dog or any other animal is infected with rabies, you should contact you local authorities, such as the police. Do not try to catch the animal yourself, since you might be bitten.
Even if you believe that your dog will never catch rabies, you should still have it vaccinated. If your dog starts behaving erratically or bite another animal or human and a veterinarian suspect that your dog might be infected with rabies, most countries have laws that stipulate that the dog should be apprehended, put to sleep and subjected to an autopsy. If you have vaccinated your dog against rabies, rabies can be out ruled as the cause of your dog's behaviour and you can avoid this from happening. In some countries, it will however be enough to confine the dog for 10 days, as long as it is not showing any clear neurological signs. If your dog has been bitten by a wild animal, you may however be forced to confine it for 6 months since it can take several months for the symptoms to appear.
Virus infections in dogs: (click for more info)
Canine coronavirus in dogs
Canine distemper in dogs
Canine herpesvirus in dogs
Canine influenza in dogs
Canine minute virus in dogs
Canine parvovirus in dogs
Infectious canine hepatitis in dogs
Kennel cough in dogs
Pseudorabies in dogs
Rabies in dogs
West Highland White Terrier