Animal & Bird Medical Center of Palm Harbor
Medical Database

Infectious Disease

Rabies

Animals Affected – Dog, Cat, Rodent

General Information
Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus. All warm-blooded animals are susceptible. The disease is usually spread when an infected animal bites another animal or person. The bitten animal or person will not become infected, however, unless the saliva of the sick animal contains the rabies virus at the time of the bite. Bats, skunks, and foxes are the most commonly infected wild animals. Dogs and cats are the most commonly infected domestic animals.

Because the signs of rabies vary, diagnosis is very difficult while the animal is alive. The only positive diagnosis is by laboratory examination of certain tissues.

Early in the disease, affected animals may show a slight change in behavior or temperament. As the disease progresses, the animal becomes restless and excitable and may have a tendency to roam or eat unusual objects. The animal then may have trouble swallowing and may begin to drool excessively. Frequently the animal becomes vicious. Convulsions may occur and are usually fatal.

Some animals do not die in convulsions, but instead suffer paralysis of the lower jaw. Shortly after this, the paralysis spreads over the body and death occurs. This is called “dumb” rabies.

If a suspected rabid animal bites a person, the animal should be quarantined for 10 days. If the animal develops signs of rabies or dies, tissues must be sent to a laboratory for examination.

Because rabies is such a threat to people and other animals, affected animals are not treated. Euthanasia (humane destruction) is mandatory.

Vaccination is the best means of rabies control. All pets should be vaccinated. Consult your veterinarian regarding the proper vaccination procedure for your pet and be sure your pet is regularly vaccinated.

Wild animals should not be kept as pets nor vaccinated for rabies. (There is no approved rabies vaccine available for wild animals.)

An Important Update From Animal & Bird Medical Center On COVID-19

We are committed to offering a safe and healthy environment for our clients, pets and hospital team here at Animal and Bird Medical Center. The best way to avoid becoming ill is to avoid exposure to the virus. Taking typical preventive actions is key.

In being cautious and mindful of everyone’s safety, we are actively working to minimize your exposure to crowded exam rooms and long waits in the lobby.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made some changes to our protocols in-hospital for the time-being…

In order to limit exposure while still providing quality care for your pet, we will be implementing special protocols to keep you safe.

We will have our veterinary technicians get a history of the patient’s symptoms and owner’s concerns via phone prior to coming into the clinic.

Our goal is for you to be able to bring your pet in for medical care but have no risk for you or our dedicated staff of transmitting the COVID-19 virus.

The Doctors and staff are dedicated to making sure your pet’s medical needs are taken care of during this national crisis.

We can still fill prescriptions for pick up, however, for those who prefer, non-narcotic and non-urgent prescriptions can be mailed to your home.

As always, careful hand-washing and other infection control practices can greatly reduce the chance of spreading any disease.