Roundworms

roundworm puppyRoundworms is the common name for several species of nematodes or ascarids. The name roundworms is derived from the tubular shape of the worms. Several species can infect dogs, but the species Toxocara canis can cause significant problems in humans as well as the species found in raccoons, Baylisascaris procyonis.

Dogs can become infested with roundworms by ingesting the eggs in the environment deposited in fecal matter, through the placenta while in the womb, or in the milk when nursing. The larvae then migrate through the liver and lungs of the puppy where they enter the air way, are coughed up, and then swallowed. They then settle in the intestinal tract absorbing the nutrients that should be meant for your puppy. A lot of damage is done when they are migrating through the body.

In humans, accidental ingestion of roundworm eggs can also migrate internally causing a syndrome know as visceral larva migrans. Signs of  VLM  can be characterized by hepatomegaly (liver enlargement), lung disease, and increase in eosinophils from allergic reactions. The larva can also migrate through the nervous system causing neurologic disease.
In some children, the larvae can migrate to the eyes causing inflammation and may result in blindness.

roundworms 300x221 Roundworms in Puppies

Contamination of the environment by raccoons has caused  significant problems in some regions. The migration of the raccoon roundworms also cause more significant disease problems. Accidental ingestion has also occurred when children may have chewed on firewood, or when playing in contaminated sandboxes or playgrounds. The best defense for this is to be sure children do not chew on objects that may have been contaminated and to wash their hands after playing outside.

Because of the potential infection of people, puppies and dogs should
be de-wormed every 2 weeks starting at 2 weeks of age and then once a month as maintenance when 4 months old. The newer heartworm and flea preventions also include a dewormer to control hookworms and roundworms. Dogs infested with roundworms can pass thousands of eggs in their feces. These eggs can survive in the environment  and be
infective for several years.

For more information, visit Pets and Parasites

CDC.gov What every Pet owner Should Know about Hookworms and Roundworms

Roundworms -Ascariasis http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/ascariasis/index.html

Funny Dancing Animals

Lets party!!! These raccoons are in the moog for dancing.

Bobcats, Wolves, & Coyotes do live in Spring, Texas

We live so close to Houston in our nice suburban homes, that we sometimes forget that wild critters also share our backyard. This bobcat was found just yards from my driveway on the 23400 block of Cypresswood ( 1/2 mile west of Treaschwig) . Not only do we have confirmed bobcats, but I have also seen coyotes and wolves. Most of the time, these wild creatures will stay clear of mankind, but to be on the safe side, if you back up to the wooded sections of the neighborhood, you may want to keep your pets indoors and supervise small children when outside playing.

Learn more about bobcats on Wikipedia

Make sure your pet is also current on their Rabies Vaccinations and use a flea prevention all year round. The wild creatures and feral cats do drop flea eggs in your yard as they cross at night and this has proven to be a source of flea infestations to our household pets. The raccoons and rodents also spread Leptospirosis and deer ticks can give your pet Lyme disease, Rocky mountain spotted fever or Ehrlichiosis.

Leptospirosis is still Causing Problems in Pets and People

The Centers for Disease Control eliminated Leptospirosis from the “reportable human diseases” list, there is, however, still substantial concern about this zoonotic disease. Our pets are susceptible to lepto also, however, many owners are afraid to vaccinate for the illness. So what’s the true story and just how can we keep our pets and families safe?

Mary Fleming always followed the advice of her veterinarian when it came to her miniature poodle, Mitsie. Regular examinations, heartworm preventive and even a good diet helped keep Mitsie active and healthy. Thinking that Mitsie was safe, Mary did not opt for a Leptospirosis vaccine for her dog. Unfortunately, Mitsie got very sick not long after visiting her city’s dog park and needed intensive care and hospitalization. Thankfully, her veterinarian was there to help her recover and explain how moist soil or puddles at the park actually put Mitsie at risk!

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease- a disease that can be passed between animals and people. It is spread by spirochete (spiral-shaped) bacteria in the urine of infected rodents, wildlife, and pets. There are more than 200 different strains of lepto and certain strains appear to prefer certain hosts, like dogs, pigs, raccoons or even rats.

The leptospira organisms enter the body through mucous membranes or through abrasions on the skin. People and animals can become infected from direct exposure to infected urine, but also through contaminated environment, such as water or damp soil.

People and pets are also exposed to Lepto while camping or participating in outdoor recreational activities. Drinking or swimming in water that is infected with Lepto is the most common exposure, but wet soil can be contaminated as well. And, as Mitsie’s case illustrates, a city environment will not always provide protection against this serious disease.

The signs of Leptospirosis can mimic many other diseases and illnesses. The first signs in dogs are often depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, weakness, and generalized pain. Affected dogs may also drink water and urinate excessively and have swollen, red, and painful eyes. Because these signs are common to other diseases and non-specific, owners may try to treat their pets at home for such problems as an upset stomach or arthritis.

This “wait and see” response delays proper diagnosis and treatment for the dog, as well as increasing the owner’s exposure to the disease. If caught early, treatment is usually effective and the survival rate is good. However, time is of the essence. A mere three or four day delay can lead to irreversible kidney failure.

Vaccines are available but many pet owners, like Mary above, have either experienced or heard about adverse reactions associated with these vaccines. In the past, Leptospirosis vaccines were generally created using the whole bacterial organism. In many cases, when a whole bacterium is used, the likelihood of a “vaccine reaction” increases. Thankfully, newer vaccines have been developed that reduce this possibility by using specific Leptospirosis proteins instead of the whole organism.

A study reviewing vaccine reactions in more than one million dogs vaccinated found that reactions occur about 13 times for every 10,000 vaccines given. More importantly, the lepto vaccine was no more likely to cause a reaction than any other vaccine.

So, if the vaccine appears to be safe and the disease deadly, shouldn’t all dog owners vaccinate their pets?

Unfortunately, that question is difficult to fully answer. Because there are so many Leptospirosis strains, no one vaccine will cover every possible exposure a pet might have. At present, vaccines are available that protect against four of the common strains infecting dogs. In addition, the vaccine will prevent clinical disease, but may not stop the pet from shedding bacteria in his urine. This makes the pet a threat to other animals, especially those who are not vaccinated. And, as mentioned above, humans are at risk as well.

Worldwide, Leptospirosis is the most widespread zoonotic disease. Cases occur routinely in tropical countries, but increases have been seen in Europe and North America as well. Floods and hurricanes are instrumental in spreading this illness and coordinated efforts to rescue and re-home pets from these disasters might actually transplant lepto into new areas.

Protecting your pet from Leptospirosis is a complex situation. Use your veterinarian as a resource to help assess your pet’s risk factors as well as the benefits and hazards of vaccination. Other important steps that might minimize your pet’s exposure to this disease include removing animal pests, such as rodents and draining areas of standing water.

Tips to Curb Your Dog’s Barking

Annoying barking is the most common complaint of dog owners and their neighbors. Barking is after all, a natural and instinctive behavior of dogs dating back to the wolf packs. Dogs communicate through their bark. There is barking to warn of territory encroachment. Dogs will bark to warn of danger. Some dogs will bark when there is unusual sounds, sights or even odors. During times of stress, frustration, anxiety or separation, some dogs will bark. Just about anything or anyone in some dogs will start the barking, wailing and howling.

So, what can you do to curb excessive barking?

The key to preventing your dog from barking is through socialization and habituation. In other words, get your puppy used to as many people, animals, situations, noises, thunder, raccoons, cats, kids, squirrels, etc. as possible when they are puppies. The more familiar a noise or an object is to your puppy, the less likely your dog will exhibit anxiety or stress induced barking as a dog. Socialization will also help to reduce the amount of alarm barking as well as the intensity. A socialized puppy should only be allowed to alert owners and then be controlled and stopped before the barking gets out of control. By learning how dogs communicate and understand their pack mentality, it will be much easier to control their barking. Here are a few scenarios we will discuss to help you curb the barking.

My dog barks constantly when I leave.

The common cause of this type of barking is from separation anxiety and your lack of leadership skills. A dog suffering from separation anxiety often thinks that he is the alpha leader and not you. As the alpha leader. when a member of his pack (you) walk out the door, the barking initiates because it is his job as the leader to worry about the pack members. To combat this type of barking, you will have to learn how to be the alpha leader of the pack. An excellent dog training system set up by Barkbusters.com can help you with this problem.

An excellent dog training program on line is the “Secrets to Dog Training” . They have a special edition that also covers dog barking.

To prevent this problem in grown dogs, effective crate training techniques when you first get your puppy will help to decrease the anxiety when he is left alone in the crate. The puppy will associate the crate as his den and will eventually be able to spend time in the crate without barking. The biggest mistake most people do when trying to crate the puppy is let the puppy out when he is barking. This actually reinforces the attention seeking behavior. You must ignore the puppy when he is barking, and then let him out either on a regular schedule or when he is calm and quiet. The ultrasonic sound emitter, BarkOff, works to interrupt the dog’s barking. When you follow that with praise when the dog stops barking, you are rewarding the good behavior (being quiet).

If your are experiencing separation anxiety in your dog, your veterinarian may be able to assist your with some treatment options such as DAP,(Dog Appeasing Pheromone) a synthetic pheromone, or medications (Clomipramine hydrochloride- sort of a doggy prozac) to help calm your dog while you initiate leadership control.

My dog is constantly barking.

Attention seeking barking can be very difficult to get a handle on as the dog receives attention whenever he barks and this actually reinforces the behavior. An example of inadvertent reinforcement includes letting the dog in when he barks. In this case the dog is training you rather than the other way around. Other examples of inadvertent reinforcement are feeding, patting, praising, playing with, giving a toy or even going to the dog to attempt to quiet it down. Never reward barking with any type of attention, even occasionally.

So, how do I get him to stop barking?

Training your dog to be “quiet” on command is an invaluable aid for curbing annoying barking. Many owners usually accept their dog’s barking as normal or even desirable in the beginning. However, the barking soon becomes a problem once it gets too loud, too often or just won’t stop when you tell him to. In order to train your dog to quiet down on cue, you must find a verbal command your dog will understand. Barkbusters uses a command “Bah” which is a sharp, guttural growl. If it does not embarrass you when you utter such sound, you are not doing it right.

Another method is with remote training with either a check chain or halter lead. In this case, I used the check chain and the “bah” command. To teach our dog to quit barking when someone came to the door, we had a friend go to the door and ring the bell. We drew a line a few feet away from the door and our dog could bark and approach to that line. Once he reached the line, he was given the command “bah” and slightly corrected with the check chain. He was then told to go kennel. After repeating this process for about 15 minutes a day, he has learned to alert us that some one is at the door, then he will go and lay down on his bed (kennel) where he stays until we tell him he can get up. This process also eliminates the jumping on visitors when they enter the door.

The key to controlling barking is to reward the behavior we want (i.e. quiet and still) rather than to give any attention to the behavior we don’t want (barking). Each time you pay attention to the barking dog, you are actually inadvertently rewarding the barking behavior. If you yell or try to punish the dog when he is barking, you will make your dog more anxious and will aggravate the problem.

All right, I admit it. I was a bad puppy parent and my dog is now a barking menace. What can I do now?

Your chances are good that you will be able to resolve most barking problems with effective leadership training. But what if your current situation, such as a new baby or an irate neighbor, requires that the barking stops immediately and you do not have the time to implement the corrective behavior?

There are newer anti-bark treatments available to help you when you need to stop the barking now. But first let us cover an anti-barking program to initiate in your household.

1. Make sure that you and the other family members are not inadvertently rewarding the barking behavior. Avoid giving your dog any type of attention, play, toys, food or affection when he is barking. Only give your dog attention when he is quiet and calm. (This is tough, because it is our nature to yell at the dog when he is barking) By the way, as a mother,rewarding the good behavior while ignoring the bad behavior, works for children, too.

2. Make sure that your response to the barking is not aggravating the problem. When a dog is barking due to anxiety or as a territorial response to a squirrel or other such enemy, yelling at the dog or throwing something at him will only increase his anxiety and the barking.

3. Modify the home environment so that the dog is kept away from the stimuli (sounds and sights) that can cause the barking. A simple way is to confine the dog to a crate or a small room away from the windows so he cannot see outside to bark at the errant squirrel or cat. You can also try to mute or mask the sounds that stimulate the barking by playing music. There are actual doggy CD’s that claim can help calm your dog when you are away. Dogs that are outside may have to brought inside. Condition your dog to trigger sounds, such as doorbells, by practicing with a friend and reward him when he stops the barking on command. In cases of separation anxiety, your veterinarian can help with a prescription of Clomicalm while you are re-training your dog.

4. Consider enrolling your dog in a training class to help you with leadership training. Several pet stores and even community colleges hold training classes. It is important that you know how to control your dog, so sending him off to school without you will only teach your dog and he may revert to the old behaviors if you haven’t been re-trained as well. Barkbusters will come to your home and teach you how to be the pack leader and thus your dog will learn to follow you.

5. Once you have sufficient control and your dog responds to your commands and handling, it should be possible to stop your dog to bark on your command. Over time, your dog will remain quiet for longer periods of time. You can then start conditioning the dog to other stimulus that causes barking, such as the squirrel in the back yard or kids on the bikes riding by the window. Slowly introduce the dog to the stimulus and and give the command to stop barking and enforce it with either the check chain, halter or some other disruptive bark trainer. Over time, these barking stimuli will no longer initiate the barking.

What are anti-barking collars and other devices and do they actually work?

There are many products on the market today from anti-bark collars that spray citronella, to products that emit an ultrasonic sound that only the dog can hear. The most annoying one I came across was an anti-barking device that produced such a loud, shrill noise, that I thought it was worse than the barking. Many of the products will interrupt the barking, but if you have not implemented the concurrent retraining techniques, many dogs will soon begin to ignore the devices and commence their annoying barking once again.

The bark activated products are the most practical to help deter the inappropriate barking when use in conjunction with the environmental modification and training. Owner initiated anti-bark devices such as the ultrasonic sound emitter, Bark Off, work best when you are with your dog and are able to reward your dog for being quiet. Off collar devices are useful to stop barking in selected areas such as doorways or windows, or for dogs that continue to bark in their crate or kennel.

Bark activated collars can be used when the barking does not occur in any predictable location. Audible and ultrasonic training collars are occasionally effective, but they are usually not sufficient or unpleasant enough to be a reliable deterrent. The collars that emit a spray of citronella each time the dog barks may be effective when you are away, but without the concurrent re-training, the dogs will soon learn to bark over the spray. You also have to re-charge the batteries and the spray chamber or the dog soon learns that he can bark and it won’t spray.

If you opt for the citronella collar, begin to use it when you are present so that when the dog is startled by the spray and stops barking, you are there to reward the dog with an enjoyable activity, such as a belly rub or a toss of his favorite ball. This will help to reinforce the quiet behavior and the barking will gradually reduce.

What if it is not my dog, but the neighbors dog that is doing all the barking?

There are some ultrasonic anti-bark devices available that are disguised as birdhouses that you can put outside. These may be only a temporary fix because without the behavioral re-training and conditioning, the dog may soon learn to ignore the noise and start barking again.
If all else fails, you can print out this article and anonymously mail it to your neighbor.

Rabies Remains A Worldwide Threat!

Rabies! Instantly we picture a wild animal or even a domestic dog, foam slathering from its mouth as it prepares to attack. This killer virus raises its head every year always waiting for an opportunity to strike. Modern medicine has come close to eradicating this disease, but it’s not gone yet!

In North America, we are extremely lucky. Vaccinations have practically eliminated the threat of rabies from our domestic animals.

Ongoing programs using oral rabies vaccines for wildlife are attempting to halt the spread of rabies among raccoons, skunks and foxes. Texas has concentrated the program of baiting the oral rabies vaccines in the counties along the border of Mexico with great success.

But if we have done such a great job, then why should we continue to be concerned and vaccinate our pets? Are we still in danger from our ancient foe?

The simple answer is a resounding YES!

According to the Alliance for Rabies Control, 55,000 people die from rabies each year around the world, mainly in Asia and Africa – an unfortunate statistic – because with appropriate medical care, rabies in humans is 100% preventable.

An even sadder fact is a large percentage of deaths are children. More than 100 children die from rabies worldwide every day. Overall, one person is killed by this disease every 10 minutes!

Rabies is a viral disease that can affect any warm-blooded animal; however, our close association with dogs brings this killer home to our families.

After development of an effective vaccination program for our pets and a post-exposure rabies vaccine for people, rabies cases in humans began to drop significantly in Western countries.

Within the last decade, less than three-dozen people have died from rabies in the United States. The majority of these deaths were attributable to bat or dog bites from outside the United States. This dramatic decrease has prompted the CDC to announce canine rabies is “extinct” in the U.S.

“There are many people today who remember rabid dogs in the streets of their neighborhoods,” says Dr. Sandy Norman, a veterinarian with the Indiana Board of Animal Health. She warns that pet owners should continue vaccinating their pets, especially in light of the CDC announcement.

“It is only through continued vigilance that we will maintain that status,” she says. “There is a huge reservoir of rabies among wildlife and it is not unimaginable that those strains could infect our pets.”

Additionally, world travel could allow someone to unknowingly bring home a rabid pet. Recently, several British animal rescuers underwent prophylactic rabies vaccines. A puppy imported from Sri Lanka bit all of them and later, was found to be rabid.

Here in the United States, more than 20,000 prophylactic doses of human rabies vaccines are given annually.

To help keep this disease in the public eye, the Alliance for Rabies Control, a charity created in the United Kingdom, enacted World Rabies Day. The goal is to eradicate terrestrial rabies as quickly as possible.

World Rabies Day, held each September, is designed to raise awareness and help people understand how they can help eliminate this threat.

Four hundred thousand people from around the world participated in the first World Rabies Day in an effort to raise knowledge and understanding. Additionally, leading U.S. veterinary associations and pharmaceutical companies, like Merial and Novartis are all contributing to the cause.

Keeping yourself safe from rabies is easy by following a few simple steps:

First, follow your veterinarian’s guidelines as well as your local ordinances with regards to vaccinating your pet. Laws vary from state to state so be sure you understand your responsibility.

Second, avoid contact with wildlife. Rabies still exists in wild animals. Never attempt to remove a wild animal from your property without professional help.

Be especially wary of bats. Most human rabies cases in North America are the result of a bat bite.

Finally, the Alliance asks that you tell your friends how rabies impacts lives around the world. Encourage neighbors and fellow pet owners to vaccinate all of their pets.

Rabies can be controlled and potentially even eliminated in many parts of the world, but as Dr. Norman says, “Continued vigilance is essential.”

Rabies Update- Still World Wide Threat

Rabies! Instantly we picture a wild animal or even a domestic dog, foam slathering from its mouth as it prepares to attack. This killer virus raises its head every year always waiting for an opportunity to strike. Modern medicine has come close to eradicating this disease, but it’s not gone yet!

In North America, we are extremely lucky. Vaccinations have practically eliminated the threat of rabies from our domestic animals.

Ongoing programs using oral rabies vaccines for wildlife are attempting to halt the spread of rabies among raccoons, skunks and foxes.

But if we have done such a great job, then why should we continue to be concerned and vaccinate our pets? Are we still in danger from our ancient foe?

The simple answer is a resounding YES!

According to the Alliance for Rabies Control, 55,000 people die from rabies each year around the world, mainly in Asia and Africa – an unfortunate statistic – because with appropriate medical care, rabies in humans is 100% preventable.

An even sadder fact is a large percentage of deaths are children. More than 100 children die from rabies worldwide every day. Overall, one person is killed by this disease every 10 minutes!

Rabies is a viral disease that can affect any warm-blooded animal; however, our close association with dogs brings this killer home to our families.

After development of an effective vaccination program for our pets and a post-exposure rabies vaccine for people, rabies cases in humans began to drop significantly in Western countries.

Within the last decade, less than three-dozen people have died from rabies in the United States. The majority of these deaths were attributable to bat or dog bites from outside the United States. This dramatic decrease has prompted the CDC to announce canine rabies is “extinct” in the U.S.

“There are many people today who remember rabid dogs in the streets of their neighborhoods,” says Dr. Sandy Norman, a veterinarian with the Indiana Board of Animal Health. She warns that pet owners should continue vaccinating their pets, especially in light of the CDC announcement.

“It is only through continued vigilance that we will maintain that status,” she says. “There is a huge reservoir of rabies among wildlife and it is not unimaginable that those strains could infect our pets.”

Additionally, world travel could allow someone to unknowingly bring home a rabid pet. Recently, several British animal rescuers underwent prophylactic rabies vaccines. A puppy imported from Sri Lanka bit all of them and later, was found to be rabid.

Here in the United States, more than 20,000 prophylactic doses of human rabies vaccines are given annually.

To help keep this disease in the public eye, the Alliance for Rabies Control, a charity created in the United Kingdom, enacted World Rabies Day. The goal is to eradicate terrestrial rabies as quickly as possible.

World Rabies Day, held each September, is designed to raise awareness and help people understand how they can help eliminate this threat.

Four hundred thousand people from around the world participated in the first World Rabies Day in an effort to raise knowledge and understanding. Additionally, leading U.S. veterinary associations and pharmaceutical companies, like Merial and Novartis are all contributing to the cause.

Keeping yourself safe from rabies is easy by following a few simple steps:

First, follow your veterinarian’s guidelines as well as your local ordinances with regards to vaccinating your pet. Laws vary from state to state so be sure you understand your responsibility.

Second, avoid contact with wildlife. Rabies still exists in wild animals. Never attempt to remove a wild animal from your property without professional help.

Be especially wary of bats. Most human rabies cases in North America are the result of a bat bite.

Finally, the Alliance asks that you tell your friends how rabies impacts lives around the world. Encourage neighbors and fellow pet owners to vaccinate all of their pets.

Rabies can be controlled and potentially even eliminated in many parts of the world, but as Dr. Norman says, “Continued vigilance is essential.”

Rabies – Controlling The Threat

Rabies. Almost everyone knows how scary this disease is- because it is fatal to both people and pets. Most people believe that rabies is well under control due to vaccinations and regulations. But what you may not know is that every spring and summer, we see an emergence of rabies. Worse yet exposure to rabies can happen in your own backyard.

The reason rabies continues to be of concern each year is because of a “spillover” of the rabies virus that lives in the wildlife population. Spring and summer are the seasons when most wildlife is very active and on the move, and there is an increased exposure of our pets to wildlife – even if you live in the city. While it is true that the majority of rabies cases occur in wildlife, most exposure to humans occurs when they are bitten by a domestic animal that has been exposed to rabies. That is why current rabies vaccinations are so important for our pets.

The primary wildlife reservoir hosts are bats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and wild dogs. These are also the wildlife that our pets are most likely to encounter. Some people are under the assumption that their pet is not exposed to wild life, but I have had 3 cases in the last month where the dog or cat picked up a bat that had fallen into to backyard or had flown into the house through the chimney. The primary hosts vary in different parts of the country. Keeping both dogs and cats vaccinated, and limiting your direct contact to wildlife is the best way to protect you and your pets from rabies. Rabies vaccination regulations also vary from state to state and your veterinarian is your best resource for rabies information.

Still, with all of the knowledge and vaccination protocols available, each year, there are rabies incidents reported in people, so it is important to know what to do if you think you may have been exposed to rabies. The rabies virus is usually transmitted in the saliva through a bite. Everyone should consider ANY animal bite – whether from wildlife or pets – as an emergency and get prompt medical attention. Animal bites should also be reported to your local animal control so that proper quarantine measures can be taken if necessary.

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Any wildlife animal that bites a person or pet will be euthanized and tested for rabies immediately. But what if the bite is from a domestic animal? If a person or pet is bitten and the dog or cat is vaccinated and appears healthy at the time of the bite, the pet can be confined by its owner for ten days and observed. No anti-rabies shots would be required. Unvaccinated pets may be required to be euthanized and tested. If the owner is unwilling to do this, the pets must be quarantined for six months and vaccinated before release. If a vaccinated pet is bitten by a rabies suspect, the pet must be kept under observation for 45 days.

The reason for these time periods is due to the incubation time of the rabies virus in the host. Studies show that unless the virus is shed in the saliva, it is not transmitted. Only late in the disease when the virus has reached the brain and caused an encephalitis does the virus shed in the saliva and therefore able to be transmitted. Most of the signs are very obvious within three to five days of the quarantine and observation period.

Rabies vaccination for your pets – dogs and cats – is still the number one prevention you can take. Keep proper rabies and identification tags on your pets at all times. Always maintain control of your pets, and have them spayed or neutered to help reduce the number of stray animals in your community. Report any stray or wildlife animals to your local animal control. Do not try to capture an animal yourself. Consider any stray animal as a rabies risk.

Rabies

Rabies is the most infamous disease that can be passed from animals to people. It has been the subject of so many novels and movies that it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. Knowing the truth about rabies can help you protect your dog and your family from this deadly disease.

What is Rabies?
Rabies is caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It infects all warm-blooded animals, including people and is almost always fatal. In the United States, human cases of rabies are rare, only a few each year. The risk is still present though, since rabid animals are found in most states.

How Is It Spread?
More than 90% of reported cases of rabies today in the U.S. occur in wild animals. The species most likely to carry rabies include raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, and coyotes. Even though rats have been targeted as a major source of rabies in fictional stories, they are actually very unlikely to harbor the disease. The number of cases in domestic animals is small but still represents a significant risk, since people are more likely to come into physical contact with them.

Rabies is usually transmitted via the saliva as a result of a bite from an infected animal. The virus enters the nerves near the site of infection, and travels through the nervous system to the brain over a period of weeks or months. Symptoms occur once the virus reaches the brain. This is also the time when the saliva becomes infectious.

Rabies in Animals
Animals with rabies often exhibit behavioral changes. Wild animals may act friendly, groggy or unafraid of people. Pets may act fearful or agitated. Other symptoms include excessive salivation, difficulty swallowing, lack of coordination, and paralysis. The only accurate tests for rabies in animals are performed postmortem. Animals suspected of rabies are euthanized rather than treated, because there is no cure.dog

Rabies in People
The symptoms of rabies in people are similar to those in animals. People with rabies are kept as comfortable as possible in the hospital, but there is no effective treatment for the disease.

Rabies Prevention
Fortunately, this terrible disease can be prevented. Here are some of the ways you, your family, and your dog can stay safe.

  1. Vaccinate your pets regularly, even if they live indoors. Vaccines are available for dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses. Vaccinated pets act as a buffer zone between rabid animals and you. If your unvaccinated pet bites someone or is bitten by a wild animal, he may be subject to a lengthy and costly quarantine.
  2. Help minimize the stray animal problem in your community. Have all of your pets spayed and neutered. Call your local animal control agency to remove strays in your neighborhood.
  3. Avoid contact with wild animals. Do not feed wildlife or allow your dog to chase or hunt wild animals. Keep garbage and pet food inside or in secure containers. Never try to keep a wild animal as a pet, or nurse a sick one back to health. Instead, contact a wildlife rescue agency for assistance.
  4. If your dog is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary care right away.
  5. If you are bitten by a wild animal or an unvaccinated pet, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. Seek medical attention immediately. Be able to provide your doctor with the location of the incident, the type of animal that bit you, how the bite occurred, and whether the animal has been captured. Treatment immediately after exposure is extremely effective. Dont be scared away by horror stories about countless shots in the stomach the current procedure is much less unpleasant than it used to be, and is certainly preferable to risking the disease.