World Rabies Day

September 28 is World Rabies Day. Although rabies is not as widespread as it used to be, it’s still as deadly as ever. In fact, many people don’t realize just how dangerous this disease is. Rabies has a staggering 99.95% mortality rate, which makes it the deadliest disease in the world. Read on as a local vet discusses rabies.

Rabies Basics

Rabies, as you may know, can affect both people and pets. The disease is viral, and is generally spread through saliva, with bites being the most common method of contagion. Rabies is a zoonotic disease, so it can be transmitted from one species to another. The disease is treatable, but with one major catch: medication has to be administered before symptoms appear. Unfortunately, once signs of the disease begin to show, chances of survival become very slim.

Types of Rabies

There are actually two different kinds of rabies. Furious rabies causes behavioral changes, and is often characterized by extreme aggression. The other kind, paralytic rabies, also known as dumb rabies, has a very different effect. Pets with this type of rabies often become very weak and lethargic. As the disease progresses, it often leads to paralysis.


Behavioral changes are typically the first symptom of rabies. Your dog’s bark may sound a bit different than usual, or he may seem restless. Your furry friend may also chew or lick at the place where he or she was bitten. Lack of appetite is another red flag, as is fever. More serious symptoms will appear as the disease progresses. Some of the things you may see include seizures; muscle spasms; confusion; unusual or erratic behavior; and/or excessive drooling. Pica, which is the term for eating things that aren’t food, can also be symptomatic of rabies.

Protecting Your Pet

Fortunately, some simple precautions will help keep your beloved pet safe. First and foremost, keep up with your furry pal’s vaccinations. Spaying or neutering will also help, as intact pets are more likely to wander. Last but not least, when walking your dog, don’t let him approach wild animals. If you suspect your pet was bitten by a wild animal, or if you notice any of the symptoms listed above, contact your vet immediately. Time is of the essence, so don’t wait!

Our Advice on World Rabies Day in 2024

What is the significance of World Rabies Day?

World Rabies Day, observed on September 28th, is critical in raising awareness about rabies, a deadly but preventable disease. It emphasizes the importance of education, vaccination, and preventive measures to combat rabies, particularly in regions where it remains prevalent. This day also serves as a reminder of the ongoing efforts needed to control and eventually eradicate rabies globally. By focusing on public awareness, responsible pet ownership, and vaccination campaigns, World Rabies Day aims to reduce the incidence of rabies in animals and humans, ultimately striving for a world free of this fatal disease.

What is the crucial factor in the treatability of rabies?

The crucial factor in the treatability of rabies is timing. Rabies must be treated before the onset of symptoms for there to be a chance of survival. The disease is almost always fatal once symptoms appear due to its rapid progression and severe impact on the nervous system. Immediate medical intervention after potential exposure, typically through vaccinations, is vital. This preemptive treatment, known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), can effectively prevent the virus from advancing to the symptomatic stage, underscoring the importance of quick action following a suspected exposure to rabies.

What are the two kinds of rabies, and how do they differ?

Rabies manifests in two distinct forms: furious rabies and paralytic (or dumb) rabies. Furious rabies is characterized by extreme behavioral changes, notably aggression and hyperactivity. Animals with this form may exhibit increased vocalization, restlessness, and even attack without provocation. Paralytic rabies, in contrast, leads to a gradual weakening and paralysis. Animals with this type become lethargic and increasingly immobile. Both forms eventually progress to severe neurological symptoms and are fatal, but their initial presentations are markedly different, affecting both the behavior and physical abilities of the infected animal.

What are the early symptoms of rabies in pets?

Early symptoms of rabies in pets can be subtle and often include changes in behavior. A pet may show signs of anxiety, restlessness, or irritability. There might be a noticeable change in the tone or sound of the animal’s bark or vocalization. Physical signs can include excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, and a loss of appetite. Some pets may lick or bite at the site of the initial bite wound. These early symptoms can rapidly progress to more severe neurological signs, making early recognition and prompt veterinary attention crucial.

What are the essential steps to protect your pet from rabies?

Protecting your pet from rabies involves several essential steps. First and foremost, ensure your pet is regularly vaccinated against rabies, as this is the most effective way to prevent the disease. Additionally, spaying or neutering your pet can reduce the likelihood of wandering and potential exposure to rabid animals. Avoiding contact with wild animals is crucial; supervise your pets outdoors and keep them leashed during walks. Lastly, if you suspect your pet has been bitten or in contact with a potentially rabid animal, seek immediate veterinary care. These proactive measures are vital to protecting your pet from this deadly disease.

Does your pet need rabies vaccinations? We can help! Contact us, your vet clinic in Hobe Sound, FL, today!

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