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Rabies: what you need to know

September 28 is World Rabies Day and is designated to raise awareness about the disease and the importance of prevention. We know. Rabies isn’t a warm and fuzzy topic, but pet owners need to be in the know, and we’re here to help.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a deadly virus that’s spread to people and pets from infected animals through their saliva and attacks the brain and nervous system. The virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected animal and can be fatal to humans but is deadly to animals.

How to prevent rabies

Rabies prevention is one of the responsibilities of owning a pet, and it needs to be taken seriously. The good news is that it’s not difficult!

  • Get your pet vaccinated! Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for frequency based on where you live, and stay up to date.
  • Watch your pet when they’re outside – whether you’re on a hike, strolling through the neighborhood or in the backyard.
  • Make sure garbage cans are secure and don’t leave food outside or anything that can attract animals (think skunks, foxes, bats, raccoons).
  • Contact your local animal control agency if you notice a wild animal acting strangely.

Remember, indoor-only pets can get rabies, too, so be sure to get them vaccinated, as well!

Know the symptoms

Rabies symptoms aren’t always immediate, and it can take three to 12 weeks for your pet to show signs. When you think about rabies symptoms, the first thing that probably pops into your mind is foaming at the mouth, and you’re right. Foaming is one of the signs, but there are others to know:

  • Aggression
  • Behavioral changes
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Staggering (while walking)
  • Vomiting

If you see these signs, immediately contact your veterinarian and local animal control agency.

“Vaccines help protect pets and their people from serious contagious diseases,” said Pet Resource Center Supervisor Kristine Clay. “It’s important to see your veterinarian once a year for an exam and recommended vaccinations. Prevention will help your pets live longer, happier lives!”

At the Dumb Friends League, cats and dogs over three months receive a rabies vaccination before adoption. Adopters receive proof of rabies vaccination and licensing at the time of adoption.

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