Rabies In Pets: Know The Underlying Cause Of Your Pet’s Aggressive Behaviour

Be it a feline or a canine, seeing your pet acting erratic and aggressive suddenly with bouts of foam coming from the mouth can be agonizing for any pet parent. These signs and symptoms usually indicate an infection known as Rabies! Well, instead of being frightened of your pet pal, just act fast, isolate it from other pets (if you have more), and immediately take your pet to the vet.

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So, What Exactly Is Rabies?

Rabies is a zoonotic viral infection that mainly infects the central nervous system, causing disease in the brain and spinal cord. It usually occurs on exposure to wild animals like bats, raccoons, and foxes and can not only affect domesticated dogs and cats but also humans, and any other mammals.

How Does Rabies Infect Pets?

The Rabies virus is secreted in the saliva, so it is mostly passed through a bite wound from an infected mammal. When a bite or scratch breaks the skin, or an open wound is exposed to the saliva of an infected animal, the virus slowly enters the bloodstream and gradually starts affecting the organs. In the case of pets, the more contact the pet will have with wild animals, the higher the incidence of the infection.

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What Are The Characteristic Symptoms Of Rabies?

Rabies usually attacks the brain causing distinctive changes in the behavioral pattern. In dogs, the incubation period is typically two weeks to four months, with death occurring one to two weeks after signs begin. Whereas, in cats, this period is one to three months, with death occurring within 10 days after the symptoms show up.

After the virus enters the body, the feline or canine passes through three stages, each with its own set of characteristic symptoms. These include:

Stage 1: Prodromal Stage

  • Shy and nervous
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritable
  • Hyperactive

Stage 2: Furious Rabies Or ‘Mad-Dog’ Stage

  • Aggressive
  • Baring teeth and claws at the slightest provocation
  • Widened eyes
  • Muscle spasms
  • Continuous drooling (in cats)
  • Foaming mouths (in dogs)
  • Dilated pupils (in cats)
  • Fever (in dogs)

Stage 3: Paralytic Stage

  • Inability to move muscles of the mouth and throat
  • Excessive salivation
  • Difficulty to swallow
  • Difficulty to breathe
  • Depression
  • A Paralytic effect that gradually moves from the throat to the remaining parts of the body
  • Seizures


In case, rabies is not detected on time, it can be fatal and even lead to the death of the pet animal.

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How Is It Diagnosed?

It is a bit difficult to detect rabies in the earlier stage since the symptoms mimic that of other health conditions. But in case, you suspect that your pet has been bitten or scratched by a rabid animal, do take your pet to the veterinarian at the earliest. The doctor chiefly checks your pet's medical records as to when the pet received the rabies vaccine, acknowledges the state of the animal that bit the pet, and depending on the visibility of symptoms in the latter, the vet proceeds with the treatment.

How To Treat Rabies?

The vet usually injects a booster dose of the rabies vaccine if he or she suspects that the pet has rabies. The vaccine can only help in the initial stage before developing symptoms, hence one should ensure that the pet is immediately taken to the vet.

How To Prevent Rabies?

The most effective way to protect your pets from rabies is to vaccinate the pet on schedule. Vaccination not only protects your pet from rabies but also protects them in case they bite someone else.