Understanding Rabies Risk: Can Dogs and Cats Contract the Disease?

Rabies is a viral infection that affects mammals’ brains and nervous systems. Because it is a zoonotic disease transmitted through saliva or bite wounds, domestic and wild animals, including dogs and cats, are vulnerable to the infection. This blog will discuss whether dogs and cats can get rabies and the importance of preventive measures to protect them.

Yes, dogs and cats can get rabies. They are the two domestic animals most frequently affected by the virus. While the disease is rare in cats and dogs in the United States, it is still prevalent in many parts of the world, especially in developing countries with limited access to vaccination and animal control programs. The virus is transmitted to pets through the saliva of infected animals, most commonly through bites. Once the virus enters the pet’s body, it spreads rapidly through the nervous system, eventually leading to death.

Signs and Symptoms of Rabies in Dogs and Cats

The signs and symptoms of rabies in dogs and cats are similar to those in humans. In the initial stages of the infection, pets may show mild symptoms such as behavioral changes, fever, and loss of appetite. As the virus progresses, they may develop more severe symptoms such as seizures, aggression, paralysis, and difficulty swallowing. In dogs, a common manifestation of rabies is characterized by lethargy, weakness, and eventual death. In cats, the “furious” form is more common, in which the animal is hyperactive, aggressive, and disoriented.

Preventing Rabies in Dogs and Cats

The best way to prevent rabies in dogs and cats is vaccination. All cats and dogs should receive a rabies vaccine as part of their routine vaccination schedule. This will offer protection against the virus and reduce the risk of infection in humans. In addition to vaccination, pet owners should take preventive measures such as keeping their pets indoors and avoiding contact with stray or wild animals. If another animal has bitten your pet, seek immediate veterinary care and report the incident to the local animal control authorities.

Rabies is a severe and often fatal disease that affects humans and animals. While the disease is rare in dogs and cats in the United States, pets worldwide continue to die from the virus. Therefore, taking preventive measures to protect your pets from rabies is essential. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the disease, but pet owners should keep their pets away from stray or wild animals. As part of our commitment to your pet’s health and safety, Elon Oaks Veterinary Hospital encourages you to schedule a rabies vaccination appointment for your beloved pets. Together, we can make a difference in the fight against rabies!