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What Is Rabies and Why Do We Vaccinate Against It?

Vaccine
As a dog owner, you always want to do what is best for your dog's health and well-being. However, what is best can sometimes be unclear. Take vaccines, for example.
A recent movement has questioned the necessity and safety of vaccines. And while it is always good to question things that you are told to be true, some vaccines for both humans and dogs are vital and quite necessary when you look at the alternative to vaccinating.
Get to know more about rabies and the vaccination process. Then you can be sure that you do what is best for your dog going forward.

What Is Rabies?

Rabies is a viral infection, which means that it can be transmitted. This virus is a form of polioencephalitis known as Lyssavirus that affects the central nervous system and particularly the gray matter of the infected creature's brain.
Rabies is transmitted through exchanging infected blood or saliva. This means that the most common means of spreading the virus is through a bite from an infected animal.

What Animals Does Rabies Infect?

Rabies is a virus that can easily be spread between species of animals. It can infect any type of mammal that comes into contact with the virus, including domesticated dogs and even human beings. Humans have been known to develop the viral infection after being bitten by a dog or another animal with the disease.  

What Does Rabies Do to the Infected Animal?

Rabies is a very serious viral infection. When an animal contracts the virus, they will not display symptoms right away. Instead, the virus will need to work its way up to the brain where it will take hold and really begin to affect the animal.
This period of time before symptoms appear is also called the incubation period. The amount of time that incubation takes can vary between cases. Most veterinarians would put the incubation period at between three to eight weeks. However, it can be significantly shorter as well (even a week to 10 days) or longer in some cases.
The first symptoms of rabies that infected animals exhibit are behavioral changes. These can manifest themselves in different ways depending on the animal. Your pet might become more friendly or cuddly. It may also become more agitated and aggressive. Nocturnal animals may also begin to come out during daytime hours or vice versa.
Light and sound sensitivities follow the initial symptom stages. During this time, if the animal has not already become hyperaggressive, they will likely do so. They may also experience seizures. In the end stages of the virus, the animal will experience progressive paralysis, usually starting with the head and neck and then moving downward.

How Dangerous Is Rabies?

Rabies is almost always fatal in animals. There is no cure, and very little can be done to treat the disease after the onset of symptoms. And most cases of rabies are not detected or even suspected until symptoms have developed. Because of this, rabies is considered one of the most dangerous infections in dogs and in all mammals.

What Can Be Done About Rabies?

While rabies is not curable once it has been contracted, vaccines can prevent your dog from ever contracting the disease. Dogs receive vaccines for rabies starting as early as three months of age. They are available in three year or annual varieties and need to be updated after that period of time to remain effective.
Most states require rabies vaccinations because of the danger the disease poses to pets, animals, and humans.
Now that you know more about rabies and the reasons to vaccinate against it, schedule your next veterinarian's appointment as soon as possible.