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How Rabies Affects A Dog

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Just like you, your dog should receive their vaccines. Not only does your dog need the initial vaccine, but you should consider giving your dog a booster shot, especially for rabies. Rabies is considered a core vaccine, which means that it is not considered optional. Every dog should receive regular rabies vaccines, regardless of if he or she spends a lot of time outside.

The Threat of Rabies

Rabies is a virus that can affect all mammals, including humans and dogs. The disease causes the deaths of thousands of humans and millions of animals every year. Unfortunately, once the symptoms of rabies appear, the disease is almost always fatal. 

How a Dog Contracts Rabies

Your dog will contract rabies if he or she is scratched by an animal that is infected, if the dog's infected saliva comes in contact with an open wound or if infected saliva comes in contact with the mucous membranes. 

Common Rabies Carriers

While any mammal can carry rabies, certain animals are the most likely to spread rabies to your dog. These include bats, raccoons, foxes, and skunks. Cats contract rabies more often than any other domestic animal, so if you also have cats in your home, make sure to keep them indoors and vaccinate them. 

Common Behaviors of Dogs with Rabies

If your dog becomes infected with rabies, it will begin to feel restless and may also become aggressive. Not all dogs with rabies become aggressive though. Sometimes, very easily excited dogs will become more docile. Some dogs will not only attack humans and other animals but will also attack inanimate objects. 

Why Rabies Changes Behavior in Dogs

Rabies inhibits receptors in the brain, which may have an impact on the behavioral changes seen in infected dogs. This can change how the brain communicates, which then changes how the dog behaves.

Rabies Options Available

When taking your dog in for rabies shots, you have the option of a one-year or three-year shot. Both are administered as a single dose. With each, you may have the vaccine administered at three months of age. With the one-year vaccine, you are required to give your dog a booster every year. With a three-year vaccine, you should give your dog a second shot a year after the initial shot and your dog should then receive a booster shot every three years. Regardless of the option you choose, there are several animal hospitals that offer pet vaccinations.