A Pet Owner's Guide to Rabies in Dogs and Cats - The Trupanion Blog
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A Pet Owner’s Guide to Rabies in Dogs and Cats

Read on to learn more on rabies in dogs and cats.

Your pet’s safety is a top priority. As a pet owner, you want to make sure you are doing your best to keep them healthy and happy. Whether you have a new puppy or pack of furry friends, wellness is a necessary factor to maintain your pet’s growth and development. Fortunately, if an outbreak or an infectious disease, occurs this pet owner’s guide to rabies in dogs and cats is here to help you stay knowledgeable. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian, Dr. Caroline Wilde, to discuss rabies in dogs and cats and the importance of protecting your pet when they need it most.

Rabies in dogs and cats: what to look for

Check out our guide on what to look for rabies in dogs and cats.

What is rabies?

No pet owner wants the stress of an outbreak or an infectious disease in their region. With a disease like rabies, it can infect the entire family if exposed. “Rabies is a fatal disease of mammals- including humans – caused by infection with the rabies virus,” states Wilde.

How do dogs and cats get rabies?

If you spend time outdoors it is important to be mindful of how you and your furry friends can contract the disease. Also, no one animal is the source of the infection or disease. For example:

“Rabies is spread through the saliva of infected animals, usually through the bite of an infected animal. However, non-bite exposure can occur. Wildlife is the most common source of transmission of rabies, and the most common carriers are skunks, raccoons, bats, foxes, and coyotes,” says Wilde.

Because of this, if your pet has any interactions with any other animals, be mindful of their behavior and seek immediate medical care if needed. Further, any interaction with wildlife should not be taken lightly.

Early clinical signs of rabies in dogs and cats

When you are traveling with pets and spending time outdoors, it is important to keep an eye on your pets at all times. Also, with an outbreak of infectious disease, it can be dependent on the disease or pet when you might see the effects.

Consider the following:

  • Change in behavior
  • Change in vocalization
  • Agitation and aggression
  • Can lose their ability to swallow
  • Excessive salivation/drooling


Treatment for a disease like rabies in cats and dogs is a bit more complex. Wilde weighs in on the serious nature of the infection and the best course of action –

“Once an animal has developed clinical signs of rabies, treatment is virtually impossible, which is why vaccination for rabies is essential (and required by law). Rabies is spread primarily by wildlife, so minimizing exposure reduces the risk of transmission, and bites are not always apparent, so if a pet has any exposure to wildlife, the owner should seek immediate veterinary care. Different states have different regulations regarding protocols of how to proceed when suspected exposure has occurred, and depending on the vaccination status of the possibly exposed animal can range from updating vaccine to quarantine/isolation and observation. As rabies is a public health concern, the seriousness of potential exposure cannot be overstated for this deadly disease.”

Preventative measures are essential to protect from rabies in dogs and cats.

Proper prevention is key to rabies in dogs and cats

Whether your pets are primarily indoors or you travel and are outdoors frequently, it is important to maintain proper wellness care to protect from this devastating disease. By getting your pet’s general wellness exam, staying up to date on vaccinations, and checking in with your veterinarian, you and your pet can adventure with the peace of mind they have the protection that they need.

To learn more about Trupanion, call to speak to one of our pet-loving specialists at 888.626.09


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