How to protect your cat and dog from rabies?

Almost everyone has heard of rabies. It is one of the most dangerous infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans from animals. Unfortunately, there is no cure for rabies in animals, and it can quickly lead to the death of an infected person. Therefore, vaccination is mandatory for dogs and recommended for cats. It is worth remembering that this year the number of cases of rabies among both wild and domestic animals is increasing. The disease was detected in cats in July. So how do you protect your pets from infection? Why is rabies so dangerous and how can it be recognized in a dog or cat? We present the answers below.

Rabies is a dangerous infectious disease among animals and is caused by viruses of the genus Lyssavirus. They are spread through saliva, mucous membranes or blood. Infection mainly occurs as a result of biting or cutting or contamination of the brain of an infected animal with damaged skin (for example, scratches).

Wild mammals such as foxes, wolves, bats, ferrets, raccoons, badgers, rodents and lagomorphs are more affected by rabies. The disease can also be transmitted to pets such as cats and dogs. Worst of all, rabies is an incurable disease that kills animals. The virus enters the mammal’s body through saliva, then into the central nervous system and causes encephalomyelitis. Unfortunately, it is dangerous for an infected animal to come into contact with humans, as the disease can be transmitted to humans.

Rabies is a disease that is found almost all over the world. At one time, the virus spread rapidly among both wild and domestic animals. Today, the risk of infection among the latter group is low due to mass vaccinations. The vaccine is also used in forests and fields to vaccinate wild animals. However, the Chief Veterinary Officer recently reported that the number of confirmed cases of rabies among animals in Poland is increasing. Since the beginning of 2021, 33 cases of infection have been registered, including in domestic cats.

Pets are usually infected by foxes or each other. The most susceptible are dogs that have been released and run away (e.g. hunting, sports) and cats outside. Animals can also move away from their habitats on their own, for example, under a fence, in the woods, and in contact with an infected person.

Symptoms of rabies in animals usually appear two to ten weeks after infection. If the animal is bitten close to the brain, the virus spreads faster. The first signs of rabies in animals may be: changes in behavior and habits (for example, the transition from day to night mode) and low sensitivity to pain stimuli. There may also be fever, diarrhea and cough. After a few days, in a state of “rabies rage” there is extreme anxiety, aggression, unexplained clapping or meowing, crying and rage. In the case of “silent rabies”, the animal becomes cowardly, closed, lethargic and drowsy. In both cases, paresis of the extremities, muscle spasms or drooling may occur. In the final stage, paralysis and death from respiratory paralysis (suffocation) occur.

Also read: Why does the dog tremble?

Rabies is an incurable disease. Infected animals should be euthanized immediately and not treated. The only way to prevent your pet from getting sick is to get vaccinated. In Poland, it is mandatory to vaccinate a three-month-old dog. After that, the vaccination should be repeated every 12 months. However, there is no obligation to vaccinate cats, but it is worth doing because of the recent discovery of infections in them.

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