Rabies is a zoonotic disease that every pet owner (and really every person) needs to know about. A zoonotic disease is one that can be passed from animal to person, which is a reason why we need to be careful around our own animals and those that roam the neighborhood (and farm).
What animals can get rabies?
- The most common animals to carry rabies are raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.
- Humans are more likely to get rabies from an infected bat than any other animal.
- Livestock can also become infected by rabies.
What are the signs of rabies?
- Though most people assume that rabid animals are going to have erratic behavior, drool, and become aggressive, those aren’t the most common signs.
- In fact, the signs of rabies are varied. Most commonly, animals may be acting quiet and depressed, though they also may act erratically.
- Early signs are often just a change in behavior and temperament.
How is rabies transmitted from one animal to another?
Rabies is transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, through his or her saliva.
The other animal or human will get rabies when the infected saliva gets into his or her system, though an open wound or fresh abrasion. It can also get in the mucous membranes or the eyes!
What should you do if you are bitten by any animal (whether or not you are worried about rabies)?
Any bite wound should be washed out with plenty of soap and water.
If you were bitten by a dog or a cat, you need to ask the owner to make sure that the pet is up-to-date on his or her rabies vaccine.
You should seek medical attention if needed.
If the owner can’t provide rabies information (or it is wild), you need to talk to your doctor or go to the emergency room. You may need treatment for rabies, just in case.
If you have the wild animal that bit you or a bat that was in the house with you, you should get it tested for rabies.
What should you do if your dog or cat was bitten?
Many times, we don’t see what has gotten our dog or cat. We simply see the bite wound.
However, if you do see what got your animal, and it is another dog or cat, you need to make sure that that dog or cat is up-to-date with his or her rabies vaccine.
If it is a wild animal, you need to euthanize it and test it for rabies.
Your own pet should get his or her rabies vaccine updated, as a precaution. If it is overdue, you definitely need to get the rabies vaccine done as soon as possible.
Then, you need to confine your dog or cat for a few months. This is to watch for any signs of rabies. You shouldn’t handle your dog or cat during this time, because you don’t want to have to worry about getting any saliva on you.
How long you have to quarantine your pet depends on several factors. Plus, the rules are always changing. While most pets will die within ten days of getting symptoms, it can take a few months to show those symptoms! Check with your veterinarian for the latest protocols.
If your dog or cat shows any signs of disease, you need to get him or her checked out right away. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog is going to get aggressive right away. You may notice that he or she simply doesn’t feel good. Your dog or cat may not be eating as well as normal.
How can you protect your family (and pets)?
If you want to protect your family, you need to start with your pets. You need to make sure that your pet has a rabies vaccine. In fact, many states require both dogs and cats to have an up-to-date rabies vaccine.
You also want to use caution around wildlife. If an animal that is wondering outside looks sick, you need to stay away. Don’t let anyone in your family near it. Most likely, it will move on.
Rabies is a serious disease and one that is very preventable! You can keep your family safe by vaccinating your pets and watching out for wildlife. However, if you or your pet gets bitten, you need to make sure that you get the medical attention that you need!
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