Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.
Health Uncategorized

Rabies – Symptoms, and Causes in Dogs

Rachel Poli Author
Apr 4 ·
Rabies In Dogs

Rabies is a sad and severe disease that dogs can transmit from wild animals or other domesticated animals. In addition, it’s easy for them to pass it on to others, including humans. Here’s everything you need to know about rabies in dogs. 

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of dogs, cats, humans, and many other mammals. The disease spreads throughout the brain and the spinal cord when this happens.

This disease can be found in many parts of the world, including North America, Central, and South America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and some parts of Europe.


Luckily, there are some parts of the world that that rabies-free. These areas include Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Ireland, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Antarctica, certain Pacific Islands, and parts of Scandinavia.

Unfortunately, it is incurable. However, it can be treated if it’s caught early enough. Otherwise, it can be fatal.

The Two Types

Paralytic rabies, also known as dumb rabies, is more common in dogs. As a result, dogs will become weak, lose coordination, and eventually become paralyzed.

The paralyzation begins in the jaw muscles and throat. So, the dog will experience excessive saliva and difficulty swallowing.

The other type is furious, also known as a mad-dog syndrome. This form will make the dog highly aggressive, often attacking and biting humans and other animals without being provoked.

The dog may also lose coordination and get seizures. 

Unfortunately, this is how it is spread. If not caught early enough and a dog bites another animal or a human, they’ll pass on rabies to them.

What Are the Causes of Rabies in Dogs?

Rabies is transmitted by saliva. So, if an infected dog bites someone else, they can pass on rabies.

On the other hand, if an infected dog licks someone with an open wound, then rabies can get passed along that way. 


Rabies typically comes from exposure to wild animals. This is why your dog should ever wander off and be missing. It should be checked out by a veterinarian immediately. It’s best to be safe than sorry since you don’t know what they encountered.

If you think your dog may have rabies or may have been exposed to it, then they might have to say in an incubation period for observation.

This incubation period may last from a week to a year. For dogs, it’s typically anywhere between two weeks and four months.

This time varies so much because it depends on two factors. One factor is the severity of the bite and how deep the wound is. The second factor is where the bite is. For instance, if the bite is close to the brain or the spinal cord, then it will spread faster throughout the body.

What Are the Symptoms?

It’s hard to tell if your dog has rabies or not. The symptoms can be subtle at first, but a few things to look out for. For instance, if you notice a sudden change in behavior or temperament from your pup, then keep an eye on them.

For example, if your dog is usually shy and suddenly becomes aggressive. Or maybe you have an energetic pup, and they suddenly become lethargic.

Within the first one to three days of coming into contact with rabies, some symptoms may include the following:

  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in bark
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Shyness
  • Vomiting

After about three days, the symptoms will worsen. However, the symptoms will depend on which type of rabies your dog has: paralytic or furious.

Symptoms of Paralytic Rabies

Symptoms of this type may include the following:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dropped jaw
  • Excessive salivation
  • Facial distortion
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Progressive paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Uncoordination

Symptoms of Furious Rabies

On the other hand, some symptoms of furious rabies may include the following:

  • Aggression (toward people, other animals, and inanimate objects)
  • Extreme excitability
  • Hypersensitivity to light and sound
  • Inability to eat or drink
  • Paralysis
  • Pica (excessive appetite for non-edible items)
  • Seizures

How Can You Treat It?

When you bring your dog to the vet with the suspicion that they have rabies, your vet will need a sample of tissue from their nervous cells of the brain for a diagnostic. Unfortunately, these samples can only be taken when the dog has passed on.

In other words, it’ll already be too long to diagnose them with rabies.


There isn’t much they can do to treat your dog, aside from flushing out the wound as best as possible if caught quickly enough.

What About The Vaccine?

Luckily, the rabies vaccination is 100% effective against the disease. So, when your dog becomes of age to get the vaccine, be sure to bring them to the vet to get the shot as soon as possible.

Usually, your dog can get this vaccine when about three months old. In most places, bringing the rabies vaccine is legally required. You could save your dog’s life and the lives of others by getting the vaccination. 

Rachel Poli Author
Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.
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