While the rabies vaccine is incredibly effective at protecting your dog against this deadly virus, no vaccine is 100% effective. Our Los Angeles vets talk about the rabies virus and how it affects dogs, what the symptoms are and how protected dogs are once vaccinated.
What is rabies in dogs?
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of infected pets. This virus can be present in animals whether or not they are alive. Typically, this infection is spread through the bite of an animal as it is present in the saliva.
This virus spreads through the nervous system of the infected animal until it reaches the brain. Once rabies has reached the brain it will become fatal. Some common signs of rabies are:
- Behavioral changes (aggression, depression, unprovoked attacks)
- Loss of appetite or difficulty eating or drinking
- Overreacting to touch, sound or light
- Staggering or falling down with eventual paralysis
- Excessive drooling
- Biting or licking the wound site where the exposure occurred
Dogs that have been infected with rabies will die approximately 7 to 10 days after the first symptoms appear.
When do the symptoms of rabies appear?
While the rabies virus commonly presents its symptoms within two weeks, there have been cases of the symptoms not appearing for months. This makes vaccinations all the more important as well as ensuring that to notify your local health unit as well as your vet and follow any instructions that you are provided regarding your animal.
An infected dog can begin to transmit the virus to other animals in the 10 days leading up to the first symptoms appear.
Can a dog still be infected with rabies after being vaccinated?
Unfortunately, the rabies vaccine is not 100% effective but this does not mean that it does not provide a large amount of protection. It is safer for your pet to have the vaccine as opposed to living without it as the rabies virus is fairly common.
In Los Angeles any dog that is exposed to the rabies virus and has received their rabies vaccinations will receive a booster shot immediately and will require a 30-day quarantine effective immediately along with being unable to interact with other animals for a further 60 days after the initial 30 day period has passed.
The exact method of quarantine will depend on your local regulations. If your vaccinated dog has been in contact with the rabies virus you should reach out to the health unit in Los Angeles.
Can my dog still transmit rabies if they are vaccinated?
While vaccinated dogs are less likely to transmit rabies, it's not impossible. Regardless of vaccination status, any dog that has bitten a person must be quarantined for 10 days. If the dog or cat was infectious at the time of the bite, any symptoms of the virus within the animal will appear within 10 days.
Protecting Your Dog by Having Them Vaccinated
The best and easiest form of rabies prevention is to keep their vaccinations up to date.
Being mindful and not allowing your dog to wander off is another way you can help to ensure your pet's safety, especially at night when bats and other wildlife are most active. In Los Angeles, there is a good chance that bats may be rabid. Be sure to bat-proof your home and avoid contact with bats at all costs.
If your dog has been bitten you should immediately and thoroughly cleanse the wound and contact the appropriate authorities as well as your vet.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.