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Can a dog showing clinical signs of rabies be cured?

Updated on June 29, 2010

Due to the close association of dogs with humans countless studies on canine nature, behavior and diseases were done. Unfortunately, in spite of the advancement in medical technology, treatment for a number of canine health concerns are as yet undiscovered. One of these canine diseases is rabies. Death is almost always the fate of a dog showing clinical signs of rabies as this dreaded disease has no cure.

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Of all the viruses that infect canines, rabies is the most known and the most dreaded. Rabies is a viral infection that affects the central nervous system of animals. This viral disease is contagious…it is also fatal. Only a handful of humans infected with rabies managed to survive after intensive medical care. The virus is a member of the Rhabdoviridae family and affects humans and warm blooded animals.


Animals and humans will be infected by the virus once bitten by a rabid animal. The virus can also be transmitted when the infected saliva comes in contact with the eyes, the mouth or with an open wound. Once bitten by a rabid animal, the viruses transmitted by the saliva on the site of the bite will rapidly multiply and spread to the brain through the nerves. From the brain, the viruses will spread to the salivary gland enabling the infected animal to transmit the virus to others.

Rabies Clinical Signs

This virus is slow moving. The incubation period that generally lasts between 3 to 8 weeks will start only when the virus has reached the brain. This means that a dog bitten by an infected nimal will be its usual healthy and frisky self and would not manifest the clinical signs for a while. However, once clinical signs are manifested, the dog, in most cases will die after 3 to 7 days. The dog will go through 3 phases in the course of the disease – the prodromal, furious and paralytic phase. First symptoms will be noticed in the prodromal phase. Fever, loss of appetite, and subtle changes in the dog’s behavior will be noticed. The mad dog or the furious phase will follow. In this stage more visible signs of the change in behavior will be seen. An even tempered dog would suddenly develop an aggressive temperament and an aggressive one can be docile and even affectionate. Dilated pupils, constant barking and growling will be noticed as well. The dog will develop a tendency to roam and will try to break free from confinement. Paralytic phase is the last. Paralysis of the jaw and the throat would cause the dog to choke and to change the timbre of barking. Paralysis will spread to all parts of the body and the dog will eventually expire.


There is no cure for rabies! However, immunity can be provided before exposure to the virus through vaccinations. Unvaccinated dogs bitten by rabid animals are considered to be health hazards. Public health officials commonly recommend euthanasia. However, if the dog owner would not permit to have the dog put to sleep, the pet will be quarantined for 6 months and vaccinated a month before it will be released. 

Dog Observed For Signs Of Rabies


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