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|Reduce Your Pet's Chance of Infection|
Rabies is a serious disease that can cost your pet its life. Review your pet's vaccinations during every visit with your family veterinarian. Make sure you are following your doctor's treatment recommendations. All circumstances are different. Your veterinarian will guide you with information specific to the area in which you live. Use these steps to reduce your pet's risk of infection:
Pets need to be vaccinated to prevent against rabies. Rabies is a fatal viral zoonosis and veterinarians believe that all mammals are susceptible to it. This disease puts the public at risk and prevention measures are urged. Rabies is transmitted through saliva. It enters the body of person or pet through an opening in the skin, typically a bite wound. Other openings in the skin, for example, burns, scratches, ulcerations, scrapes and unhealed surgical incisions provide opportunity for the rabies virus to enter your pet's body.
Rabies is a disease that is acute. It creates progressive inflammation of the brain in an animal that has been infected. Veterinary research has identified that rabies disease is caused by a lyssavirus and that it is the most important lyssavirus throughout the world. Wild animals living near your home may be infected with the lyssavirus that causes rabies when pets are bitten. The likely animals in your area probably include skunks, foxes, bats and raccoons. You'll want to discuss your pet's yard and neighborhood environment with your veterinarian to ensure your pet's safety.
Prevention recommendations for pets outlined in the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2011, indicate that "Regardless of the age of the animal at initial vaccination, a booster vaccination should be administered 1 year later."
Prevention measures mean that exposure to humans and animals can be reduced or eliminated by becoming aware about the disease and how it is transmitted. Prevention also includes eliminating contact with wild animals. Treatment plans recommended by your pet's veterinarian should be followed and completed.
The Compendium advises, "The virus is usually transmitted from animal to animal through bites. The incubation period is highly variable. In domestic animals, it is generally 3 to 12 weeks but can range from several days to months, rarely exceeding 6 months." You will want to alert your veterinarian at any time you suspect your pet has been bitten or received saliva from an animal that could be carrying the virus. The varying incubation period will require that you keep close watch on your pet when exposure is suspected.
"Rabies is rare in vaccinated animals," advises the Compendium. "Dogs, cats, and ferrets: Rabies virus is excreted in the saliva of infected dogs, cats, and ferrets during illness or for only a few days before illness or death." The salivary glands are the virus's favorite concentration site. Damage to muscles that involve swallowing and drinking are severely affected by the virus.
Symptoms of infection with the rabies virus may include:
The rabies virus and resulting disease is preventable. Mad Dogs and Meerkats: A History of Resurgent Rabies in South Africa, suggests that this disease kills 55,000 people around the world every year. "Responding quickly when one is bitten, is critical - if you wait for the symptoms to show it is often too late. Post-exposure treatment saves the lives of around 15 million people around the world every year." Education and awareness about the virus are urged during World Rabies Day every year.
Questions to ask your pet's doctor include:
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Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.
The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.