Rabies has been affecting humans and animals since 23rd century B.C., according to ancient writings describing it. The disease exists on every continent except Australia and Antarctica, so it is important for pet owners in North America to know how to properly protect their pets.
The disease is transmitted when one infected animal bites another. As the rabies virus does not survive long outside of a mammal’s body, physical exposure to an infected animal is unlikely to be a major risk for rabies infection. In the United States, the skunk, fox, raccoon and bat are the most important wildlife sources for rabies infection. In addition to wildlife, stray animals who are unvaccinated can also pose a rabies exposure risk. As rabies is a zoonotic disease—bites from these same animals are a risk factor for rabies virus infection in people as well.
The best way to prevent rabies in dogs is to make sure your canine gets all of its dog vaccinations. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, vaccinations promote the production of antibodies, but only work if the shots are given before the virus enters the animal's system. Your dog’s first rabies vaccination should be given between 12 and 16 weeks of age and then booster vaccinations should be given according to the laws in the state where you reside. Your will guide you on the appropriate rabies vaccine schedule.
There are other ways to protect your pets from this deadly disease. According to the Beverley Citizen, it is important that pet owners contact local animal control center if a stray animal is found, since it may not be vaccinated. You can also prevent stray and wild animals from coming near your home by fencing. As an additional deterrent, keep all garbage covered with locked lids if it is kept outside, the news outlet reports. Always supervise pets outdoors and do not keep their food or water there.