Rabies in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Rabies (rabies) is a dangerous infectious disease with a fatal outcome that causes rabies virus. Previously, rabies was called hydrophobia, hydrophobia.

The causes of pathology

Rabies virus is introduced into the body of a healthy dog with the saliva of an infected individual. Basically, infection occurs through bites (the most dangerous bites are in the head and neck), less often — by salivation or simply contact through micro-injuries on the body of a pet.

The main reservoir of infection is representatives of the wild animal world. So, are dangerous individuals that live in the forests, as well as in epidemiological disadvantaged regions. The risk of infection exists everywhere, even in an urban environment. That is why the owner of a free — range dog should be vigilant-his four-legged friend is not immune from meeting with an infected stray animal, and therefore from the defeat of his body with rhabdovirus.

The mechanism of development of the disease is as follows: Rabies virus rapidly moves along the long processes of neurons and causing damage to the spinal cord and brain. As a result of its activity, irreversible changes occur in brain tissues.

The virus is stable in the external environment and to disinfectants. Rabies virus is stored in a frozen state for up to six months. When boiled, at a temperature of 100 degrees or higher, it dies.

The clinical picture

Symptoms of rabies in a dog can usually be observed 3-7 weeks after the virus enters its body. However, in veterinary medicine recorded facts when the duration of the incubation period was 6 months or even a year. This depends on two factors: the level of the ability of the virus to infect the body, as well as the resistance of the dog’s immune system.

Common signs of rabies include General exhaustion, salivation, strabismus, and behavior changes. Then you should expect paralysis of the hind limbs, respiratory muscles, and heart. As a result of these phenomena, a fatal outcome inevitably occurs.

Veterinarians distinguish several forms of rabies in dogs, each of which is characterized by specific symptoms. The most common form of the disease is violent, divided into three stages.

Initial (prodromal) is almost asymptomatic. The dog behaves as if offended by the person, stops communicating, hides. However, it also happens the opposite, when an unsociable dog suddenly begins to show increased friendliness, licks his hands and requires communication and affection. An attentive owner will definitely pay attention to changes in the behavior of a four-legged pet. Already on the 2nd-3rd day there is salivation, heavy breathing, yawning due to lack of oxygen.

The manic stage is characterized by aggression, inappropriate behavior, and unmotivated anger. The pet attacks people, bites things and is interested in inedible items, tries to hide in a secluded place. His behavior cannot be corrected.

Due to paralysis of the laryngeal muscles, the dog’s voice becomes hoarse. There are convulsions, seizures, rolling of the eyeballs. Then the quiet phase begins. The dog no longer shows aggression, but just lies and breathes heavily.

Complete paralysis also passes without aggression. The dog is afraid of light and noise, refuses water and food due to developing paralysis of the swallowing apparatus. Paralysis engulfs the muscles of the extremities, which causes lameness, and then internal organs. There is a coma and, as a result, a fatal outcome.

There are the following forms of rabies:

  1. Atypical. Lasts from 3 to 6 months. Symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, exhaustion. There is no aggression.
  2. Depressive with a duration of up to 5 days. Signs: rapid deterioration, cough, salivation, paralysis of internal organs.
  3. Return. Paroxysmal course of the disease. Attacks then disappear, then resume. It only lasts a few days.
  4. Abortive (little studied). A dog with symptoms of infection is cured spontaneously without consequences for the body. However, this form is rare, so it is not pointless to hope for a miracle.

If you notice signs of a dangerous disease in your pet, the owner must immediately take it to the veterinary clinic.


The task of the veterinarian is to differentiate rabies from other diseases: Aujeszky’s disease (pseudorosette), encephalitis, distemper of carnivorous animals. In the last two cases, with timely treatment in the clinic, the dog can be saved.

A preliminary diagnosis is made based on an external examination of the animal, laboratory and pathologic-anatomical data, as well as epizootological information obtained for the region. An accurate diagnosis can be made only after the death of the animal. Refutation or confirmation of rabies is based on the study of histological samples of the brain for the presence of specific Babesh-Negri bodies.

Treatment method and prognosis

Rabies is an incurable disease. There are no drugs that can defeat this terrible disease. Upon request to the veterinary clinic, the dog is placed in quarantine for 10 days. It is kept in an enclosure, communication with other animals is prohibited. During this time period, she shows or does not develop signs of rabies. No tests are taken from the patient, as the dog is a serious threat to the staff of the veterinary clinic.

It is useless to treat a progressive disease, so the only humane way to save the animal from suffering is euthanasia.

What to do at home

If your pet got into an altercation with a stray animal and was bitten by it, you should never ignore the incident. The affected dog should be taken home, and perform the following manipulations:

  1. To put a muzzle on the animal.
  2. Perform a visual inspection.
  3. Cut the wool around the affected area.
  4. Wash the damage with hot water and household soap. The water pressure should be strong.
  5. Treat the edges of the wound with green paint or hydrogen peroxide.

The procedure should be performed with rubber gloves and follow the safety precautions.

Next, you need to isolate the dog in a separate room and exclude its communication with family members and other animals. If possible, you need to call a veterinarian at home. In the absence of such a possibility, the pet must be urgently taken to a veterinary clinic for diagnosis of the disease. There, the animal will be given an anti-rabies vaccine, and two weeks later, it will be revaccinated. After 10 days, it will be known whether the dog is infected with rabies or not.

You can not take care of a four — legged pet yourself-this puts you at deadly risk! Rabies is a deadly disease that is transmitted to people.

Preventive measures

Vaccination is considered a reliable and proven method of preventing rabies for decades. It 100% protects animals from a deadly virus. Infection can occur in two cases: the virus has entered the body before the start of the vaccine, or the drug is expired.

If the vaccine is of high quality and is administered in a timely manner, according to the vaccination schedule, rabies does not threaten the dog.

In Russia the most popular vaccines are Rabizin, Animals, Nobivac, Pentalog.

Revaccination is carried out every year, but persistent immunity to the disease is developed after the third vaccination (by the third year of life). It should be borne in mind that if the dog was bitten before its immune system began to respond adequately to the virus, the development of the disease can not be excluded.

Animals that are not vaccinated are not allowed to participate in dog shows, and are not involved in government service. They cannot be transported by land or air. They are also not subject to export for hunting. A record of rabies vaccinations must be available in the veterinary passport.

To protect your pet from the Rabies virus, the owner must follow the simplest safety rules. During walking, you should exclude the communication of a domestic dog with stray animals. After walking, the dog should be examined, and if bites and other skin injuries occur, wash the wound with soap solution.

What are the actions of a person if they are bitten by an animal with suspected rabies? Previously, such a patient had to urgently contact a medical institution for 40 injections. The need to go to the emergency room is not canceled, but 7 vaccines are given for prevention.

Vaccination carried out before the onset of rabies symptoms provides a 100% guarantee of recovery. First, the wound should be treated at home with a soap solution, disinfected and bandaged.