dog with rabies

Rabies is one of the most well-known and deadly virus that attacks the nervous system which is commonly called hydrophobia.
Rabies is a viral zoonotic neuroinvasive disease that cause brain inflammation (acute encephalitis) in mammals and dog is significant source that carried rabies disease in many other countries.
Dogs that infected with rabies will show signs and symptoms such as foaming at the mouth, extremely mean and aggressive. However in some case infected animals can be very calm and tame so you must be really careful not to stay near or get biten by strange animals.
Death is always certain once a dog is infected with rabies virus. This deadly disease can be prevent with a proper vaccination from veterinarian.

Spread and Transmission of the Disease

Rabies are transmitted by infected animal biting a non-infected animal.
Travelers, veterinarians or peoples who work closely with wildlife animals have highest risk of exposure with rabies disease because animals in wildlife nature are not vaccinated but luckily there are prevention vaccine available.
Rabies remain viable for less than one day and cannot live long outside the host.
The rabies virus can be carried by warm-blooded mammals such as

  • Human
  • dog
  • cat
  • monkey
  • cow and cattle
  • skunk
  • wolf, coyote and fox
  • bat
  • squirrel
  • raccoon
  • rabbit

Other non-mammals such as fish, bird, reptiles and amphibians do not carry rabies disease.

Dog rabies symptoms

The infection of virus are divided into 3 stage: prodromal, furious (or excitative) and paralytic.
Prodromal stage can last up to 6 months long as the virus slowly spreads over the nervous system and travel to the brain. During this period infected dog sometime may not show any signs or symptoms at all.

  • fever
  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • changes in behavior
  • tone of bark change
  • chewing at the bite site

Furious or excitative stage may last for several days (usually 2-4 days) after the prodromal stage however not all dogs experience this stage. This is the most dangerous period because infected dog can spread rabies disease and the symptoms are as follow.

  • extremely mean and aggressive
  • totally uncontrollable
  • break it own teeth by biting objects
  • constant growling
  • biting
  • dilated pupils
  • restless
  • disorientation
  • seizures

Paralytic stage last for 2-4 days and the symptoms are as follow.

  • choking
  • dropping of the lower jaw
  • unable to swallow any food
  • foaming at the mouth
  • paralysis of jaw, throat and chewing muscles

After the paralytic stage infected dogs will usually be in coma. It may also experience respiratory problems and failure then pass away.


  • Dr. Winnie, Veterinarian

    Dr. Winnie earned a Master in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria's Veterinary School. She is a full-time Veterinarian specializing in internal medicine for companion animals.