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Keep Your Canine Safe From Rabies

Dog and Owner Playing Outside
Rabies is a deadly disease that kills dogs, other animals, and even people. As a dog owner, you need to know what you can do to protect your dog and other members of your family from the rabies virus. By keeping your pet safe from rabies, you could also prevent people you care about from getting the disease. Here's what you need to know about preventing rabies.
Watch for Reports of Rabies
While rabies is a big deal because it can kill humans, it's also comparatively rare. Only about 60 or 70 cases of dogs with rabies are reported every year. Because it is rare (and deadly), rabies tends to make the news when it happens. If rabies has been reported in your area, you may see it on the local news or in the paper. 
Watch for these reports for information about rabies, especially if it's been reported in your town or in the area immediately surrounding where you live. If you do see news reports about rabies, keep a closer eye on your dog and your dog's activities to protect him or her from potential carriers. 
Don't Let Your Pet Wander Alone Outside
Allowing your dog to run loose outside can lead to problems. Even if your dog is unlikely to run away from home, the more you allow your dog to wander, the more likely your is to dog encounter an animal infected by the rabies virus. 
When you let your dog outside, keep him or her secure and protected from other animals. This will require you to secure the dog in the yard or stay outside with him or her the entire time. When you do go out together, keep your dog on a leash to keep him or her by your side. 
If you keep your dog in the yard, put up a fence rather than tethering your dog to a pole. This way, he or she can walk freely through your property without worrying that other animals will enter the space. 
Know the Signs and Symptoms of Rabies
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of rabies can help you know when it's time to get away from a stray animal. Some of the signs of rabies include:
  • Paralysis
  • Aggression toward (or fear of) people and other animals
  • Lack of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Slackness in the jaw
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Irritability
If the animal is domesticated and familiar to you, you'll probably notice a distinct change in behavior over previous interactions. Take note of these changes and be cautious around animals that are acting differently than normal. 
Report Animal Bites to Your Vet
Rabies is transmitted through animal bites because it passes from the saliva of the infected animal into the wound of the uninfected animal. If your dog gets into a fight and is bitten by another animal, report this to the veterinarian. Even if you don't believe that the other animal is infected, you should still check with the veterinarian to ensure that all precautions are taken and your dog is protected. 
Keep Your Pet's Vaccination Up to Date
The best way to protect your dog is to keep your pet's vaccinations up to date. Rabies vaccinations keep your pet inoculated against the rabies virus, and thus can also prevent the spread of rabies from your pet to other members of your household. Take your dog to the veterinarian on an annual basis, and get your pet vaccinated whenever the veterinarian says that it's time for a rabies booster. 
For more information about how you can protect your dog from rabies, contact Irby-Overton Veterinary Hospital. We'll be happy to answer your questions.