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Let’s Talk About Rabies

Why is a Rabies vaccination so important?
Rabies vaccination is highly encouraged for cats and dogs at the Moncton Animal Hospital. The province of New Brunswick requires vaccination against Rabies to obtain a city license, without this license (for dogs) you may be subject to a fine. There are very strict procedures regarding Rabies in cases of dogs biting humans. Why is this? Why is Rabies so important?

Rabies is a very serious viral disease that can affect mammals – humans, dogs, cats, horses etc. It is present on all continents except for Australia and Antarctica. Rabies is present in New Brunswick wildlife (skunks, foxes, raccoons, and bats). This virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected animal.

What are the stages of a Rabies infection?
First stage:

  • Change in behaviour
  • Quiet dogs may become agitated
  • Active dogs may become nervous and shy

Second stage:
Furious form

  • Most common form in cats
  • Highly excitable
  • Ravenous, chewing stones, dirt, and garbage
  • Paralysis
  • Death

Dumb form

  • Most common form in dogs
  • Progressive paralysis: difficulty swallowing and walking
  • Coma
  • Death

How is infection treated?
There is no treatment for Rabies. If your veterinarian suspects Rabies, strict laws must be followed in regards to quarantine and contacting the authorities. Rabies can only be definitively diagnosed by examination of the brain after death. Your veterinarian will work together with the appropriate authorities to determine the next steps. Public safety is of utmost importance during suspect rabies cases.

How can I prevent Rabies in my pet?
Rabies vaccination is extremely safe and effective. All dogs and cats should be vaccinated with the rabies vaccine between 12 and 16 weeks old. Rabies boosters are also required. Please contact your veterinarian for more information.

Written by: Dr. Nicole Mann, DVM

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