Do you remember that movie by Stephen King called “Cujo”? You know the one where that sweet Saint Bernard turns into a raving monster? How many of you had nightmares about that dog or were leery of large breed dogs after that? I know I was. I tended to watch for signs of my dogs turning on me for weeks after that movie came out. I wasn’t quite sure what to look for exactly but I hoped that by the time I recognized a “Cujo” in my dog, it wouldn’t be too late.
Cujo undoubtedly had the rabies virus but how realistic were the symptoms in that dog as compared to a real-life case of rabies? Back in the “Old Yeller” days, the disease was called hydrophobia and generally, if someone of that generation even suspected that an animal had the sickness, they would shoot first and ask questions later. The epidemic of an outbreak would have been too devastating to their livelihood in that era not to mention the risk of animals infecting humans. There was no cure or preventive medicines back in the day so becoming infected meant infinite death.
In current times, we have vaccines and anecdotal measures to counteract any possible symptoms that may occur in humans or animals if there is concern that you or your pet have been infected. Having your pet vaccinated is a routine practice that every dog or cat should adhere to as part of a regular vet visit. Rabies vaccines are generally good for 3 years of protection and are such an important precaution to ensure the future health of your pet. The CDC or Center for Disease Control issues specific warnings every year to inform the public of any rabies outbreaks around the country. They may even know the specific type of animal that could be infecting domestic animals in these specified areas. These rabies outbreaks do not discriminate against any animal so be extremely aware of the warning signs for symptoms of rabies in your pet and monitor them closely. The symptoms may vary from animal to animal but could include lethargy, aggressiveness, drooling or foaming at the mouth, and disorientation.
If a human is infected with the rabies virus, once the actual symptoms appear, the disease may most certainly be fatal at that point. If you or a loved one is bitten, scratched or even makes contact to an already open wound via saliva, you should take immediate action and visit an emergency room or family doctor and get updated on your tetanus shot. If you suspect that the animal may be infected with the rabies virus, as a precaution, you may want to begin the rabies anecdotal shot series to begin the process of flushing the virus out of your system if it in fact exists within your body. Unfortunately, the series of shots you would have to endure can be quite painful but the alternative to that could possibly be death so you have to decide what would be worse?
If you live near wooded areas or if your pet has free roaming range on your property, make sure you keep an eye out for stray animals in your yard or watch for any symptoms in your pet very closely. It might be worthwhile to have a fence around an area of your property to protect your four-legged friends. Rabies is not something you want to mess with and for the health and safety of your pets and your family; it’s wise to take all the precautions necessary to avoid a catastrophe.