Rabies in dogs is a well-known virus that most people automatically think of as causing frothing at the month. However, this symptom is just one of many that are associated with canine rabies.
Usually dogs that become infected with rabies show the symptoms in various stages.
Usually the first part of the dog’s body that is targeted by the rabies virus is the nerves. From there, it travels directly into the brain, where it then turns to the salivary glands, causing the foaming at the mouth symptom people generally associate with rabies.
It’s not until the disease gets into these salivary glands that it can actually be spread to other animals, and even people, with a single bite.
One thing about rabies that veterinarians just don’t have pinpointed yet is how long it takes the rabies virus to travel through a dog’s body.
In general, it takes about one to two months for rabies to travel to the brain, and another several weeks before the virus travels to the salivary glands.
Of course these numbers are variable because some people report that it took six months or more, even up to a year, for rabies in dogs to travel to the animal’s brain.
All of these symptoms take the dog’s behaviour through three different stages.
The first stage is called the prodromal phase, and it usually lasts a couple of days. This phase is characterized by anxiety, a desire to be alone, and a fever. Dogs in this phase of canine rabies typically go through a major personality change, becoming the opposite of their usual personality.
The second phase of rabies is known as the furious phase, and it can last up to a week. During this phase, the dog becomes especially irritable and restless. The smallest noises will set the dog off, and the animal begins to roam. This is also the phase when biting becomes a strong likelihood.
The third phase is the dumb phase, and this phase can come right after either of the first two phases. Some dogs just skip over the furious phase and go straight to the dumb phase. This phase usually begins within a couple of days of the first symptoms being observed. The dumb phase is characterized by heavy breathing and respiratory failure. This phase also indicates that the dog’s death is evident.
There is no way to diagnose rabies in dogs, except to conduct an autopsy on the dog’s brain and test the tissue.
Veterinarians typically identify the symptoms of canine rabies and immediately quarantine the animal. Rabies is essentially a death sentence for a dog because there is no cure for it.
The best way to protect your dog from rabies is by keeping his vaccinations current. Usually vaccination for rabies begins when the dog is only three or four months old. After that, rabies vaccinations begin once per year, starting when the dog turns one year old.
It is possible to get a two-year or three-year rabies vaccination, and it is just as effective as the one-year vaccination, but many cities do require that dogs be vaccinated for rabies every year.