Recently, two families in Henrico, Virginia had to quarantine their pets after they had an encounter with a rabid fox. Fortunately, animal control officers caught the fox, which tested positive for rabies. If left untreated, rabies can be a fatal disease, so it’s important to know how to protect your animal and prepare for the worst.
Rabies is a disease that can be easily passed to humans and animals like your pets, wildlife and even livestock. The disease attacks mammal’s central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), and it is commonly transmitted through saliva. However, rabies can survive in the brain tissue of a dead rabid animal, which is why you should never allow your pet near dead wildlife. Keeping your pets on a leash can prevent them from becoming exposed.
Vaccinating your pets is also a key step, because it will lower your pet’s risk of catching the disease. If you think that a rabid animal may have bitten your pet, put gloves on and check for bite marks. Be sure to avoid your pet’s saliva, and if you only see saliva left on your pet’s fur, wash it off with soap and water. If your pet has been bitten, immediately contact your veterinarian so your pet can be treated as soon as possible. Contact your local animal control office if you know what kind of rabid animal bit your pet. This will prevent the spread of the disease.
When an animal gets rabies, they usually behave abnormally. For example, they might be more aggressive or passive. Another common symptom is drooling or foaming at the mouth, because the disease affects the brain and spinal cord, which can have an effect on the animal’s ability to swallow. If untreated, animals often die within 2 to 12 days of infection.
Prevention is important, and if you notice an animal behaving strange outside (e.g., a raccoon walking around during the day) keep your pet indoors so they stay safe.