Would you be able to spot a rabid animal? Do you know what the symptoms of rabies are? If not, you are not alone. The majority of people today would not be able to recognize a rabid animal or suspect that an animal is rabies. As you will see, foaming at the mouth isn’t the only symptom of rabies. There are twelve more to look out for.
Rabies is a devastating and often fatal disease. Even with the advancement of modern veterinary medicine, this disease is far from under control in North America. There has been a slight increase in rabies cases in some areas as wild animals invade populated areas.
Of the following symptoms, animals typically show one or two symptoms when they become infected with rabies. In my experience, I have only seen one animal foam at the mouth when it was rabies. Hence, you need to watch out for the other signs and symptoms to protect both yourself and your pet as the disease can be passed on to humans.
The early symptoms of rabies in an animal are usually mild. This is usually indicated by a lack of muscle coordination or apparent muscle stiffness in the animal. The other symptoms are more specific to the disease.
Note that the following symptoms can appear alone or can be combined with other symptoms.
Pica. This is the eating of indigestible objects like wood, stones, glass, plastic, etc. It is not really understood when the animal is doing this.
Seizures. Both mild and acute seizures can occur in an animal with seizures. Mild seizures can be mistaken for tremors or chills.
Fever. This is a sign of infection, and since rabies is a virus, the animal’s natural immunity begins to work by increasing the animal’s body temperature. If the temperature is high enough, the animal may have seizures.
Paralysis. This is one of the more common symptoms of rabies. Usually it starts in a mild form and can increase rapidly until the animal can no longer move.
Hydrophobicity. This is also known as the fear of water. This occurs when the animal cannot swallow. The animal is afraid of water because it thinks it could choke on it, so it avoids water.
A lowered or fallen jaw. This is one of the more obvious symptoms of rabies. The animal is unable to fully close its mouth due to paralysis of the jaw muscles.
An inability to swallow. This can, but does not have to be, foaming in the mouth. Foaming usually occurs when the animal breathes through the mouth instead of the nose. Usually this leads to excessive drooling.
A noticeable change in the tone of her barking. Animals with rabies can get very noisy. If a dog normally has a deep bark, its bark becomes high frequency when it becomes ill.
Shyness or aggressive behavior. If a dog normally enjoys being around people and is good-natured, they may suddenly start avoiding or trying to attack people. When they attack, they usually have a form of rabies known as Grim Rabies.
Overly excitable. This shouldn’t be confused with arousal. An excited animal is likely to attack, while an excited animal may attempt to escape if you pay attention to it.
Irritability. This can be a result of sudden changes in the animal’s mood. Animals suffering from this symptom may suddenly bite or snap if you give them attention.
Paralysis of the jaw. This is a common sign of rabies. This causes an inability to swallow or can lead to hydrophobicity.
Constant salivation. This is also a common symptom of rabies. This leads to constant drooling and possibly foaming at the mouth.
As mentioned earlier, knowing the signs and symptoms of rabies is important for every pet owner. And this becomes even more important if you live in an area where wildlife is frequent.
Also, keep in mind that most animals will not show all of these symptoms at the same time. Most animals usually only show one or two symptoms. However, if you experience any of these symptoms, it is extremely important that you take the animal to a veterinarian immediately. These symptoms could be the result of other diseases and only a veterinarian can rule out rabies.