Family Encyclopedia >> Animals & Insects

Rabies prevention:5 tips to protect your dog

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 59,000 people worldwide die of rabies each year after being bitten or scratched by an infected dog; almost half of them are children under the age of 15. With preventive measures, including vaccination, both your family members and your dog can be protected.

Rabies Prevention

Rabies remains a serious health problem in many parts of the world. Of the estimated 900 million dogs worldwide, most (75-85%) are not pets. In the countries where rabies is an ongoing threat and outbreaks continue, both owned and non-owned dogs may be at risk if they do not receive rabies vaccinations. Many areas where rabies outbreaks continue have limited access to resources and vaccines, and awareness and education about the disease is often low.

Know what rabies is and how it is transmitted

Rabies is a viral zoonotic disease (a disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans) that causes deadly inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, not only in wild animals, but also in pets and humans. The rabies virus is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite or scratch. In up to 99% of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for rabies infections in humans.

The time it takes to show symptoms of rabies depends on the distance the virus has to travel from the bite site to the brain. If someone is bitten in the toe, it can take weeks or even months to show symptoms, but if they are bitten in the face they can become rabid within a few days.

Once the symptoms are present, the disease is 100% fatal. Symptoms include anxiety, confusion, partial paralysis, agitation, aggression, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing, fear of water and ultimately paralysis, coma and death.

Be careful with unfamiliar dogs

In general, it is best to avoid unfamiliar dogs. This is especially true for dogs that are sleeping, eating or caring for puppies, as they may startle if they sense a threat. If you come across a dog you don't know, don't run and yell, instead avoid direct eye contact and remain motionless. Watch for warning behavior of the dog, such as growling, snapping, showing teeth, updo hair on the back, ears back and a rigid posture.

Make sure your dogs are vaccinated

Rabies is 100% preventable by vaccinating dogs. You can do your part by making sure your dog is kept up to date with a rabies vaccination, which is administered by a vet in doses of one year or three years.

Get medical help quickly

If someone has been bitten or scratched by a suspected rabid dog and may have been exposed to rabies, a vaccination may be part of the treatment. However, it is important to immediately wash the wound with soap and running water for 15 minutes. This can help remove and inactivate any virus that may have been vaccinated. The post-exposure vaccination schedule depends on a previous vaccination history, so you should consult your doctor or visit the emergency room for immediate medical care.