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By Drs. Anne Brenneke and Ron Eby

Animal Advice

Animal Tips is written by Drs. Anne Brenneke and Ron Eby of St. Francis Veterinary Clinic, located at 310 County Road 706 in Green Forest, 870-423-2630.

Opinion

Rabies prevention: It's totally up to you

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Did you know that something as simple as keeping you pet(s) current on vaccinations helps to control the diseases that could be in your community? Some diseases are considered to be zoonotic, which means that they are transmittable to humans. Rabies is a zoonotic virus that can be a serious public health concern. Having your pet(s) vaccinated by a veterinarian is highly recommended and also a state law.

Rabies can be transmitted from a rabid animal to another mammal by biting or by contaminating a scratch or wound with saliva. Rabies only occurs in mammals, usually only wild animals, but can certainly infect a domestic animal under the right circumstances. It does not affect fish, birds, reptiles or amphibians.

Examine your pet often for fresh bites and scratches, and keep your pet up-to-date on their Rabies vaccination. Animals infected with rabies could be contagious for up to seven days before they show signs of the disease. Some signs of rabies are called Furious or paralytic form. Studies say that it is more common for a dog to become paralytic and a cat to become furious.

Rabies affects a dog's neurological system, behavior, and their limbs may become paralytic. Rabies in cats can sometimes be difficult to diagnose in the early stages. Significant symptoms include: behavioral change or mobility abnormalities (like staggering). Horses show neurological problems, weakness, lameness, colic, swallowing and coordination problems.

These signs are also symptoms of other equine neurological disorders; therefore, being difficult to diagnose without running several tests. Cattle usually show signs of hypersalivation and loss of appetite along with behavioral changes. After being infected a few days they develop anorexia, foamy hypersalivation, weight loss, and even voice modification.

How do you prevent you dearly loved pets from this horrible disease? It is really quite simple. Keep your pet's vaccinations up-to-date. Arkansas law requires a Rabies Vaccination to be given to dogs and cats, by a veterinarian, every 3 years.

Your veterinarian may choose to vaccinate annually contact them to determine their vaccination schedule. Puppies and kittens can be given as early as 3 months of age, but they need to be revaccinated one year after the first vaccination, then annually or every three years, depending on your veterinarian's preference.

Horses, sheep/goats, and cattle must be vaccinated annually if you choose to vaccinate them. Try not to attract wild animals by putting up pet food and garbage. Please do not approach an animal that is acting strangely.

Did you know that if a vaccinated or unvaccinated pet bites a human it is to be reported to the Department of Health?

If unvaccinated, it is recommended that the animal be humanely euthanized and tested for rabies.

Unfortunately, testing the brain of the questionable animal is the only diagnosis for rabies. Please vaccinate your pet(s) against rabies. It is inexpensive, good for our community and good preventative care for your pet(s). Contact your veterinarian to get your pet(s) protected.

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Animal Advice is written by Ron Eby, DVM, of St. Francis Veterinary Clinic, located at 310 County Road 706 in Green Forest, 870-423-2630.