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World Rabies Day as a Pet Holiday: Busting the Common Myths About Rabies

March 14, 2022

Did you know that rabies is a viral and deadly disease that is endemic throughout the continental U.S.?

Although it is 100% preventable, not many people are aware of the proper vaccination protocols, causing rabies to become an issue that needs to be addressed.

Therefore, in this blog post, we’ll walk you through its pet holiday and the common myths surrounding it to help control its onslaught.

Let’s start.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a viral infection you or your precious pup can get from the virus secreted in the saliva of most animals.

It can affect the nervous system, including your spinal cord and brain, and is fatal, especially if left unattended.

For dogs

Once a rabid animal bites your pooch, rabies starts to progress in three stages.

First, your pooch will experience a change in personality and behavior by becoming very anxious, agitated, and fearful. This scenario is a sign that your dog is in the prodromal stage and will become very aggressive around two to three days after getting bitten.

Afterward, they will progress to their furious stage, showing signs of irritability and restlessness. They may also develop a sensitivity to light and sound.

At this stage, your pup will start wandering around and attacking anything as if they were hallucinating. This stage lasts for a week at most, followed by disorientation and seizures.

The last stage is the paralytic stage, where your dog will be paralyzed on their throat and jaw muscles, leading to foaming in their mouth.

Your Fido will also experience labored breathing, choking, respiratory failure, weakness, and eventually death.

For humans

After being bitten, the rabies virus would travel through the body towards the brain before causing any symptoms. This is the incubation period where the first symptoms are yet to appear.

This incubation period may vary depending on how far the bite is from the brain, the type of rabies virus, and the body’s existing immunity. However, it could last for a few weeks to a few months.

The first symptoms of rabies infection in humans may include general weakness, discomfort, headache, or fever and can last for days.

While these simple symptoms may appear very similar to flu, they can worsen to acute symptoms like cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, agitation, and confusion. We suggest that you watch out for any signs of prickling or itching at the site of the bite.

Another thing you should know is that rabies can make you experience delirium, hallucinations, abnormal behavior, hydrophobia, and insomnia as the disease progresses. These acute symptoms usually last for 2-10 days.

After that, the virus would then worsen to its clinical stage. The disease is nearly always fatal at this phase, and treatment is usually only supportive. In fact, there are only a few documented cases of people surviving clinical rabies.

Why do we celebrate World Rabies Day?

World Rabies Day is a global health observance event and dog-friendly holiday celebrated every 28th of September. It started in 2007 to raise people’s awareness about rabies and break down myths concerning the disease.

This pet holiday was also established to bring together partners who can help manage anti-rabies efforts on a global scale.

5 common myths about rabies

Myth #1: Rabies is not preventable.

Absolutely untrue! The truth of the matter is that rabies is easily preventable by vaccinating your cats, dogs, or other pets that could transmit rabies through their bites.

Myth #2: Rabies cannot be cured.

There are actually two things to consider in this scenario.

If the rabies infection has already established itself in your body and you’re exhibiting acute or critical symptoms, then it’s true that rabies is no longer curable. In that case, there is no effective treatment you can use, and the disease will surely be life-threatening.

However, you still have a chance of surviving if you get immediate treatment with a series of shots. This will help prevent rabies from taking hold.

Myth #3: Rabies can only be transmitted from animal bites.

While dog and cat bites are common avenues of getting a rabies infection, you can actually also get the virus through their scratches and other open wounds for as long as fresh saliva is present.

Bites and scratches from wild animals like foxes, raccoons, and skunks can also be a source of rabies. Moreover, although rare, you can also get a rabies infection through airborne transmissions in caves filled with bats.

Myth #4: Washing a dog bite won’t work against rabies.

On the contrary, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends immediately and thoroughly washing a bite wound since it can limit your chances of getting a rabies infection.

Nonetheless, washing the wound is not enough to cure the virus. You still need to urgently seek medical attention, as well as post-exposure vaccinations.

Myth #5: Indoor pets don’t need anti-rabies vaccines.

Fact: it’s best to heed your vet’s advice about vaccinating your indoor pet. You may be living in a highly rural environment, so there’s always a chance that your beloved pet will want to escape on a pet-friendly getaway and get bitten by a rabid wild animal.

There are also laws requiring pets to get vaccinated with anti-rabies, so don’t forget to check with your vet about local regulations.

What can you do to help prevent rabies in your dogs?

Preventing your dog from getting rabies is an easy task.

The first step is to visit your vet with your precious pooch regularly. Not only will your pooch be able to have dog-friendly short breaks, but you can also keep them updated with the latest anti-rabies vaccinations.

Second, we recommend that you maintain reasonable control over your pup by keeping them indoors and away from any harm they could get from meeting rabid animals outside.

There’s another tip you can try, but note that this is entirely optional. And that is to spay or neuter your Fido. This is an excellent measure if you want to help reduce the number of unwanted pups abandoned in the wild and left unvaccinated.

Lastly, always call animal control to take away any stray animals in your neighborhood since these animals may be unvaccinated or ill.

All in all

Rabies is a serious issue that could be fatal to animals and humans if left unattended.

It’s best to immediately get medical attention for any suspicions of getting rabies, no matter how small. Professionals know best, so listening to their advice will always be helpful.

Let’s enjoy this pet holiday and together strive for a rabies-free world.