How to recognize dogs with rabies?

March 23, 2024 | 05:00 pm PT
Our family cherishes our dog immensely, yet we're conscious of the potential dangers they pose should they become infected with rabies. How can we determine if our dog has rabies? (Hung, 30, Dong Nai)


Dogs infected with rabies typically show a range of symptoms indicative of the disease, such as alterations in their usual behavior.

This includes becoming quickly agitated, showing a decrease in appetite, exhibiting a hoarse bark, growling, foaming at the mouth, demonstrating a fear of light, seeking solitude, or engaging in unusual barking patterns. In cases that are more advanced, the dog might suffer from paralysis affecting its jaw, tongue, or limbs.

Humans infected with rabies display similar symptoms, including becoming agitated, developing a fear of water, and experiencing paralysis in the jaw or limbs.

A dog sleeping. Illustration photo by Pexels

A dog sleeping. Illustration photo by Pexels

In the event of a dog bite, immediate and proper care of the wound is crucial. The initial step involves thoroughly washing the wound with soap under flowing water, while being careful not to squeeze the wound, which could cause additional bleeding.

Subsequently, it's vital to get medical help at the closest healthcare center for an assessment of the wound, its management, and the potential administration of a rabies vaccine or rabies immune globulin, especially if there's a significant risk of rabies infection.

To safeguard against rabies, vaccination of dogs against the virus is strongly advised. Owners should diligently monitor their dogs to prevent them from wandering off unsupervised. Should any unusual behaviors be noted, it's imperative for the dog to be taken immediately to the nearest veterinary clinic for a thorough examination.

Dr. Ho Ngoc Loi

Ho Chi Minh City University of Medicine and Pharmacy Hospital

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