What Rabies Does to Your Pet
All mammals can become infected with rabies, whether domesticated or wild. While 90% of all cases are found in wildlife (namely raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes), 8% are found in domesticated animals (such as dogs, cats, and cattle). Before rabies vaccinations became a requirement, more than 90% of cases were of domestic animals. This serious problem costs the United States alone$300 million US every year to prevent and to treat the disease.
An animal infected with rabies often does not seem to be sick at first. As the virus travels to the brain and nerves, however, the brain becomes inflamed. At this point, the virus can be found in the animal’s saliva, which is why rabies can be transmitted through a bite. Once the brain becomes inflamed, the animal will begin to show a variety of symptoms. These include insomnia, fever, anxiety, confusion, partial paralysis, agitation, excitation, hypersalivation, hallucinations, hydrophobia (or fear of water), and difficulty with swallowing. Typically, an animal with rabies dies within a few days after symptoms begin to appear.
Rabies and Pets
Sadly, the majority of rabies cases involving cats and dogs are with those that have been domesticated. These cases could have been prevented if the owner simply would have vaccinated the animal. A domesticated animal can easily be bitten by a wild animal with rabies and become infected with the disease. Vaccinations, however, prevent the disease from being transmitted. This not only protects your pet, it protects you from becoming infected as well.
A pet that is kept indoors is less likely to become infected with rabies than one that stays outside. Nonetheless, the risk is always there. You never know when your pet may dart out the door. In addition, those that go outside to use the restroom can also be bitten by an infected animal while outside. If you notice a stray animal in your neighborhood, it is best to call animal control. These animals are more likely to not be vaccinated and, therefore, to be infected.