1. How it’s contracted
Rabies is spread by infected saliva that enters the body through broken skin. The virus travels to the brain, where it causes swelling; this usually results in death. Most dogs contract it by being bitten, either by another dog or awild animal. Rabies can also be passed to humans.
2. What to look out for
The first sign that you have a rabid pet is change in behaviour. Rabid animals usually stop eating and drinking, and may seem antisocial. After the initial onset of symptoms, the animal may become vicious or begin to show signs of paralysis. Some rabid animals bite at the slightest provocation, while others may be drowsy and difficult to rouse.
3. Prevention is always better
‘It is essential that you ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date,’ says Chris Kuch from the National Council of SPCAs. Your dog should get vaccinated as early as three months, and every three years thereafter. Also, don’t approach astray, wandering or seemingly homeless animal. Rather call a professional to handle it.
Text originally appeared in Good Housekeeping, November 2012.