What You Need to Know About Rabies

The word “rabies” is enough to strike fear in most people. While rabies is a deadly virus it is also preventable.

How Does My Cat or Dog Get Rabies

Rabies is most commonly passed through the saliva secretions from an infected animal. The virus is passed when the virus-laden saliva makes contact with the mucus membrane or an open wound. Some of the ways that your pet would contract rabies through a bite from another infected animal, by carrying a dead infected animal in its mouth, or by licking its paws after coming into contact with an infected animal.

Testing and Treatment

There is no test that can be performed on a live animal to determine if they have rabies. To determine if an animal has rabies the tissue of the brain must be tested. It is equally unfortunate that there is no effective treatment for rabies. Once an animal becomes infected signs of the disease will appear within 21 to 80 days. The virus can be shed in the saliva up to 8 days before any symptoms appear. Once the paralytic stage is reached the disease is fatal within 2 to 4 days.

What Are The Signs of Rabies

The signs of rabies include:

  • Overly aggressive behavior
  • Overly docile behavior
  • Lack of coordination (stumbling or staggering etc.)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizures
  • Weakness
  • Paralysis of the jaws and/or throat
  • Hypersensitivity to stimulus resulting in aggressive behavior (biting, snapping, etc)
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

What Can Be Done to Prevent Rabies

The only effect treatment is vaccinations. Dogs can receive their first vaccination at 12 weeks or older with the first booster at one year and follow-up boosters every three years after that. Cats can receive their first vaccination at 12 weeks or older. The preferred vaccine for cats is an annually administered recombinant vaccine.

Managing you pet’s outdoor activities to prevent bites and picking up or playing with dead animals will also help prevent exposure. Some methods to help with this include keeping dogs on a leash and staying away from areas where rabies sighting have been reported


While the thought of rabies can be terrifying it is preventable. The best preventative methods are vaccinations and managing your pet’s outdoor activities. A mobile veterinarian can come to your home and help with vaccinations, health checkups, and an environmental review. In the greater Keizer and Salem, Oregon area you can always rely on Rolling Vet Animal Care www.rollingvet.com or (503) 400-7992.

Leave a Comment