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  • Writer's pictureBrad Keating

Warning Signs Your Dog Has Rabies

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

Owning a dog means taking care of them to prevent disease and infection or getting treatment immediately when something bad happens. Most pet owners know what rabies is. This virus can affect the spinal cord and brain of any mammal, including humans, dogs, and cats. It is preventable through a vaccination, but a pet can get infected easily. This virus evokes fear in others for good reason.

It's reported that the disease is in every US state other than Hawaii. All other countries have it other than Antarctica and Australia. Each year, rabies kills over 50,000 humans and countless animals throughout the world. Once the warning signs appear, the disease ultimately results in a fatality.

Rabies is quite terrifying because the virus sets in fast, and once the warning signs are present, the survival rate is very slim. Please be aware that it's unlikely that a dog can contract rabies because most states require them to be vaccinated. Still, a dog can come into contact with a rabid wild animal. Therefore, please know what signs to watch for, what they need, and what to do if it's believed that a dog has the rabies infection.

Warning Signs Your Dog Has Rabies

The Warning Signs That a Dog Has Rabies


Usually, the first warning sign of rabies (and other diseases) is if the dog is acting like it has no energy or is excessively tired. Please pay attention to the dog at all times. That way, it's possible to know what they need.


One issue with the rabies infection is that the symptoms mimic many other diseases. A fever is a universal symptom for many problems. If a dog is infected with the rabies virus, it is likely to run a fever. The high temperature is the primary response to infections.


It's important to pay close attention to a pet at all times. Make sure that there's no vomiting. Though it is seen in other medical cases and problems, vomiting is a sign that the dog is infected with something. While it's unlikely that the pet needs to rush to the emergency room, it's a good idea to get to a veterinary clinic. At this stage and time, tell the veterinarian that the dog is suspected of being infected with rabies. There may be enough time to reduce their symptoms and even find a way to heal them.

Excessive Drooling

Please focus on the early warning signs that a dog might have rabies. It's important to get to a veterinarian immediately if excessive drooling is noted. This is the trademark sign that something is wrong. Most people describe it as foaming at the mouth. It happens because the jaw or throat is paralyzed, so the dog has difficulty swallowing. That, in turn, causes them to drool. Check to be sure, though, because dogs often drool throughout the day (called slobber).

Typically, a healthy dog slobbers throughout the day, while one infected with rabies is more like frothing at the mouth. Please, it is in everyone's best interest to make sure that they understand the early signs of this disease. Remember, it can be transmitted to a human through a bite from the dog, which is why certain dog breeds are on the dog insurance blacklist.

Please be careful if excessive drooling is noted. Other issues can include the dog not drinking or eating. Another concern here is that dogs may try to overeat and then be unable to swallow. Please check to ensure that the dog's body looks normal and that the pet is getting the nutrients it needs.


Another way to determine if a dog has the disease is to search for a heightened sensitivity to various things. Typically, dogs with this problem always become sensitive to sound, light, and touch, with light sensitivity being the most prominent. The dog may appear to squint in bright light or move out of brightly lit rooms. Testing for sound, light, and other sensitivities is possible to make loud noises or to use a bright flashlight.

Though it's easy to do, try to prevent anyone from being too close to the dog right now. If they touch it and it gets skittish, bites are likely. Once a person is bitten by a dog, it is important to know what happens after a dog bite is reported. Consider calling on veterinary services in the area to find information about how to prevent rabies.

Often, it is harder to discern sensitivity to touch and sound if they already have a problem with it. Use appropriate judgment in all cases. Please try to prevent rabies and take the pet to local veterinary services to make sure that the dog is healthy. People need to check their dogs often to prevent such severe results.

Odd Behaviors

Please make sure that everyone knows how the pet typically acts. Another way to determine if the dog has rabies is if they suddenly perform odd behaviors. It's possible to search for things that dogs of that breed tend to do. Please know what the pet normally does and always check that against any odd behaviors. Use this information to prevent the pet from getting rabies from bites and through other methods.

It's likely that some peculiar behaviors are going to be noted with rabies. Though it's possible to search online for the information, it is all here and ready to read. Some of the issues can include:

  • Significant aggression

  • Self-mutilations

  • Disorientation or unsteadiness

  • Hallucinations

  • Irritability

If the pet is often friendly and in need of attention but then turns mean or angry around others, this is a sign that veterinary services are necessary. Another thing to focus on is the aggression level of the pet. Typically, friendly dogs don't go rogue on their own, but the virus is known to affect dogs by turning them mean.

At this stage, there isn't much that can be done. The signs all point to them being infected, so it is best to take them and seek veterinary services. While it can still be early in the game, no one wants them to be around any other human.

As they walk, it's possible that the body looks like it's moving all the time. They feel that they need to continue moving, and usually, a human can immediately see that they are infected. Owners may want to contact the veterinary clinic as soon as possible and discuss the issues. One thing to be aware of is that pets in this early stage may experience hallucinations, too. They might snap or bark at nothing but can also do it if a human or another animal walks by.

Cases are sure to vary, so many pets exhibit a mixture of all these behaviors. They need to be protected and get proper treatment. Contact the veterinary clinic and take them to the vet if it's believed that they are infected. No one wants to risk getting hurt, and this way, the household is protected. Please understand what this virus does and what it looks like so that it can be diagnosed early. This way, there's less human exposure, meaning others in the household aren't as likely to get infected.

How a Dog Gets Rabies

One way a dog gets rabies is by getting bitten by another animal infected with the virus. Please understand that it can be transmitted through scratches, open wounds, and anywhere that the infected saliva can make contact with mucous membranes. Typically, the US has many common carriers.

Please focus on the wild animals around the house that could have it, such as raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats. Also, please be aware that it's reported in cats more often than other species, so if cats are living in the house, they should stay indoors and be vaccinated.


How is Rabies Diagnosed

How Is Rabies Diagnosed?

There is no one special test to diagnose rabies in any live animal. Please understand that the best way to determine if an animal is infected is through the direct fluorescent antibody test. Most veterinarians like to perform it because it is highly accurate. The downfall is that it requires brain tissue, which can only happen upon death.

How Is Rabies Treated?

Please realize that rabies cannot be treated. If there is an infected pet in the house, the one problem is that there isn't a cure once the signs are present.

How Is Rabies Prevented?

It is possible to prevent rabies. The pets need to be vaccinated on time to prevent rabies and many other illnesses. In fact, the law in most states requires it. Check with the vet about appropriate vaccinations and timing for the dog or cat.

Not only can a vaccination prevent the pet from getting the virus, but it can also prevent him from giving it to someone else. Please focus on what the pet needs and use this time to get them vaccinated. If a dog bites a human, there is a need for a waiting period of 10 days to see if rabies might develop. If their vaccination records aren't current, euthanasia or a longer quarantine might be mandatory.

Please pay attention to the signs that a pet was infected with the virus. It is not like other illnesses because it comes on fast. They need to stay away from wild animals, so keep them fenced in when possible or use a leash to walk them. Also, supervise them while they are outside to lessen the chance of them getting infected. These options may be the best way to prevent any issues.

Which Dogs Are 'At-Risk' of Contracting the Rabies Disease?

Please understand that most animals are at risk and need to be vaccinated. Unvaccinated pets are more at risk, especially if they usually like to roam along with wild animals. It's important to please understand that it doesn't just affect a dog; a cat may also get infected with the disease.

What Should Be Done if a Dog Might Have Had Contact with a Rabid Animal?

Please understand that it's possible to prevent rabies by getting a check-up from the vet. Another way to prevent the household from getting the disease is to find a safe place for the animal to be. Do not try capturing wild animals and make sure that the home is protected from them.

  • Please cover and stuff large holes and caulk any cracks.

  • Use screens to cover any open vents and ensure that doors are always shut.

  • Please check the screens periodically for rips and holds. The need to repair or replace them should be done immediately.

  • Use chimney caps to ensure that wild animals aren't getting inside.

It's very important to take the pet to get a check-up every year. Search for clinics in the area and use one that is reputable. If the dog might have had contact with a rabid animal, contact the health department and animal control offices. Typically, a human must wait for 10 days and stay confined or quarantined to see if rabies is going to develop in them. Remember, this virus can be transmitted to humans through pet hair, biting, and many other things. Please be careful. There is likely a need for multiple injections to protect the person's health if they believe that the rabies virus was transmitted to them through a pet.


People everywhere must take the time to help their pets deal with illnesses. The rabies virus is real. Though vaccinations are often required, it could be that the dog got their shots but was infected before the body had a chance to react. Please make sure that a call to the veterinary clinic happens as soon as it's realized that the dog could have the virus.

It's best to know the dog's risk level, medical history, and always focus on the signs of a problem. In short, rabies affects the spinal cord and brain of all mammals. If a dog is infected with the virus, a bite from them could cause human contamination. Please make sure that everyone in the household understands the risk. If it's believed that the dog was infected, make sure to visit a veterinarian immediately. Symptoms can include irritability, aggression, and other things. Call the vet clinic to get medical assistance. Please use this information carefully to make sure that the dog receives the testing services it needs. It's possible to prevent this disease, and the best way to do that is through vaccination. Another way to help is to know when the dog needs veterinary treatment.


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