Rabies is one of the most serious health risks every pet parent must be aware of. In puppies primarily, this disease can manifest itself in particularly severe forms and often goes undiagnosed until it has already progressed to its later stages. Understanding the signs and symptoms of rabies in puppies can help you act as quickly as possible if your beloved pup ever becomes infected with this potentially fatal virus. Please continue reading to learn more about what rabies is, how it presents itself on a physical level, and which treatments may help save the lives of affected puppies.
What is rabies?
Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system of animals, including humans. It is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite or scratch. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle spasms, and paralysis. If left untreated, it can lead to coma and death. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent rabies.
Do puppies have rabies?
Puppies can contract rabies just like any other animal, but they are generally not at high risk for it unless they are exposed to a rabid animal or live in an area where rabies is prevalent.
How to identify the symptoms of rabies in puppies?
It is important to be aware of the signs of rabies in puppies so that you can take the necessary steps to protect your furry friend from this lethal virus. Some of the most common symptoms of rabies in puppies include:
Changes in behaviour, such as aggression or unusual shyness
These behavioural changes are often the first sign that rabies may be present in a puppy. Caregivers should watch for any aggressive behaviours or if their normally outgoing puppy appears withdrawn or unusually timid.
Loss of appetite and thirst
Suppose a puppy begins to lose its appetite or has trouble drinking water. In that case, this can indicate that it is infected with rabies.
Disorientation and stumbling
Rabies can make a puppy appear disoriented and cause them to stumble when they walk.
Loss of muscle control and paralysis
A puppy infected with rabies may have difficulty controlling its muscles and suffer from paralysis in some areas of the body.
Foaming at the mouth and drooling
This is one of the more noticeable signs of rabies in puppies and is caused by the virus paralyzing the muscles controlling swallowing.
Changes in the tone of the bark or growl
Puppies infected with rabies may make different sounds when barking or growling, such as a higher-pitched tone or a more strained voice quality.
Hydrophobia (fear of water)
Puppies with rabies may be overly fearful of water, even if they usually enjoy swimming or walking by the river.
Tremors and seizures
Rabies can cause violent tremors and seizures, which can indicate the virus.
Respiratory difficulty and choking sensations
A puppy infected with rabies may have difficulty breathing as well as experience a choking sensation.
Progressive deterioration of the nervous system leading to death
Rabies is a fatal virus that can cause the nervous system's deterioration, leading to death in some cases.
Pet owners must be aware of these signs of rabies in puppies, so they can seek immediate medical attention if their pet shows any of the symptoms listed above.
Potential causes of rabies in puppies
Several factors can contribute to rabies in puppies, such as:
Bites from infected animals
Rabies is a viral infection that can be transmitted through the bite of an infected animal such as a bat, raccoon, skunk, or fox. Scratches from an infected animal too can cause rabies.
Contact with infected saliva
Rabies can also be transmitted through contact with an infected animal's saliva such as through a lick from an infected animal.
Occasionally, rabies can be transmitted from an infected mother to her puppies before or during birth.
Puppies that have not been vaccinated against rabies are at higher risk of contracting the disease.
Poorly maintained or unsanitary living conditions can increase the risk of puppies contracting rabies.
Prevention against rabies in puppies
It is essential to get your puppy vaccinated against rabies as soon as possible. This disease can be fatal if not treated promptly and can also be transmitted to humans.
To prevent rabies, your puppy should receive a series of vaccinations at the following ages:
- First vaccine: At 12-16 weeks of age
- Second vaccine: At 1 year of age
- Boosters: Every 1-3 years after that
It is also important to keep your puppy up to date on all other vaccinations, including those for distemper, parvovirus, and hepatitis.
Before vaccinating your puppy, check with your veterinarian to determine the best vaccination schedule. Your veterinarian will also be able to provide you with more information on the risks and benefits of vaccination.
While vaccination is the ultimate prevention for your puppy, here are a few additional steps you can take to keep rabies at bay:
Keep puppies away from wild animals
Rabies can be transmitted through bites or scratches from infected animals. Therefore, it is important to keep puppies away from wild animals, especially stray dogs and cats.
Use a leash when taking your pup out for a walk
This will help prevent them from coming into contact with wild animals and other dogs infected with rabies.
Regularly check puppies for signs of rabies
Symptoms of rabies in puppies include lethargy, fever, loss of appetite, and changes in behaviour. If any of these symptoms are observed, it is crucial to contact a veterinarian immediately for further evaluation and treatment.
Keep puppies indoors
This will prevent them from coming into contact with wild animals and other dogs infected with rabies. If you must take puppies outside, supervise them closely and keep them on a leash.
Is it possible that your puppy has rabies?
Although rare, the possibility is real. To protect against this potentially fatal virus and quell any worries you may have, get your furry friend vaccinated with a rabies shot as soon as possible! If you are still concerned about their health after the vaccine, don't hesitate to consult a trusted veterinarian for advice.