Rabies is a deadly disease that primarily carnivorous mammals are prey to. According to a declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO), Germany has been officially rabies-free since 2008. So the likelihood that your dog will develop rabies is very small. While a few years ago an annual rabies vaccination was legally required, nowadays more and more dog owners are wondering whether this vaccination is really still necessary for their dog.
We get to the bottom of this question and provide you with all the important information about rabies vaccination.
First of all, as a dog owner, you should deal with the form in which the viral disease rabies manifests itself and what internal processes it triggers in your dog. With this background knowledge, you can then make your own judgment about the importance of the rabies vaccination and decide, based on this, whether you should consider vaccinating your dog.
Rabies is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. However, you can also become infected through saliva or skin injuries. In Germany, most of the danger comes from dogs or wild animals such as foxes that have immigrated illegally from abroad.
The pathogens of the disease are so-called Lyssaviruses, which on average have worked their way from the corresponding entry point via the nerves to the brain after three to eight weeks. There are occasional exceptions where the incubation period is either a few days or several years. The decisive factor here is the distance between the entry point of the virus and the brain. When they reach the brain, the pathogens damage the central nervous system. From this point on, the disease breaks out and the first symptoms can be noticed.
Rabies runs in three phases, which ultimately inevitably end in the death of the sick animal. The first phase is often misunderstood as a common cold as it manifests itself through symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
After an average of one day, the second phase of the disease begins, in which the classic symptoms of rabies appear. From this point onwards, a doctor would identify the virus as such with great certainty, but a clear diagnosis can only be made on the dead animal.
Dogs affected by rabies suffer from severe mood swings and are completely unpredictable. Your emotions can range from shy and fearful to aggressive and restless.
They salivate and bark disproportionately. They also experience muscle twitching and paralysis, causing their tongue to hang out and their mouths open.
After about two to four days, the second will move into the final phase of rabies. The dogs visibly lose energy and are often affected by cramps and paralysis. Over the next three days, they go into a coma and eventually die from suffocation caused by paralysis of the airways.
Why we are rabies vaccination advocates
Rabies is a serious disease, the course of which is unfortunately almost impossible to stop, even with today's medical options. In order to protect Germany from the Lyssaviruses, there is a very strict rabies regulation. This is necessary because the disease can infect both animals and humans and is almost always fatal.
If a dog is suspected of being infected with rabies, even professional veterinarians can no longer save the animal. According to the law, therapy is not provided for and, in fact, prohibited. This regulation applies even if the disease has not yet broken out and theoretically there is a very small chance of a cure through advanced human medicine.
The only way to reliably protect your dog against rabies is to get a rabies vaccination. Once an unvaccinated dog shows symptoms of the disease, that animal must be euthanized to prevent further spread. A vaccinated dog, on the other hand, can only be quarantined if symptoms occur.
Due to the national rabies regulation, it can be worthwhile to finance the vaccination for your dog. Otherwise you have no basis for negotiation if your four-legged friend does show suspicious symptoms or accidentally comes into contact with an affected animal. Without the rabies vaccination, these circumstances would mean the death sentence for him.
For this reason, this vaccination in dogs is still considered a so-called core vaccination, which the vaccination commission urgently recommends.
How the rabies vaccination works
If you have the opportunity, you should have your dog vaccinated against rabies as early as 12 weeks of age. In this way, comprehensive and reliable basic immunization can be ensured.
In the following years, depending on the preparation, the rabies vaccination must be refreshed at certain annual intervals in order to be able to guarantee further protection.
If you travel with your dog to countries where there is an increased risk of rabies infection, the rabies vaccination is mandatory by law anyway. In addition, international dog events and visits to animal boarding houses provide a reason to have your dog vaccinated. This is where your four-legged friend comes into contact with many conspecifics who could possibly pose a risk of infection.
We recommend that you view the rabies vaccination as simply part of your duties as a dog owner. Just like you regularly check out Grooming , the nutrition and the Insect repellent take care of your four-legged friend, you should also attach importance to a complete vaccination certificate. This is the only way you can maintain his health as effectively as possible and enable him to live a happy life.