Our veterinarians recommend we vaccinate our pets against rabies, and many American communities require such vaccines. Why should we as pet owners and community residents be concerned about rabies?
A friend of mine who lives in Montana can attest to the need for rabies awareness and vaccinations. Earlier this year she received a major leg injury from a dog bite. She’s not unfamiliar with dogs; in fact, she was conducting an obedience class in her town’s park when the attack happened. Turns out the dog that inflicted the injury had not been vaccinated against rabies.
“Anyone who even touches an animal – dog, cat, horse, bat, whatever – that has rabies, has to get a shot, which can cost $3,000. If the person is bitten, they basically are re-traumatized because the first shot goes into the area where the bite is – think of children who might have to go through that,” she said.
In her community, there were nine bite incidents from January to mid-August, she added. My Montana friend needs to be monitored for the next two years to insure she doesn’t contract rabies.
Although a human contracting rabies is rare, it does happen. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one to three cases of human rabies are reported each year. “The number of human deaths in the United States attributed to rabies has been steadily declining since the 1970’s thanks to animal control and vaccination programs, successful outreach programs, and the availability of modern rabies biologics. Dog rabies vaccination programs have halted the natural spread of rabies among domestic dogs, which are no longer considered a rabies reservoir in the United States,” according the CDC’s website. However, the organization’s website text adds, “each year between 60 to 70 dogs and more than 250 cats are reported rabid. Nearly all these animals were unvaccinated and became infected from rabid wildlife (such as bats, raccoons, and skunks).”
I live in Wyoming, and the CDC notes that an elderly woman in the state contracted and died from rabies in 2015 through an encounter with a bat.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a human who is bitten by a rabid animal receives a series of four shots given over 14 days, plus one that’s fast-acting (rabies immune globulin) given as soon as possible after the bite. Read more here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rabies/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351826.
World Rabies Day
Friday, September 28 is World Rabies Day. Started 11 years ago, this special day was created to raise awareness about rabies and bring together partners to improve prevention and control efforts throughout the world. World Rabies Day is observed in many countries, including the United States. About 59,000 people die from rabies throughout the world each year, according to the CDC. Vietnam, Ethiopia, Haiti, Mexico, and India are some of the countries where people have been exposed to rabies and where the disease is still rampant not only in wild animals, but also in dogs.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, nearly 5,000 cases of animal rabies was reported in 2016. The disease attacks the nervous system and, once infected, death of the animal is certain. The disease passes from animal to animal (or human) when the virus is secreted via the animal’s saliva oftentimes by a bite from the infected animal. Rabies can also be transmitted when saliva from a rabid animal comes in contact with an open cut on the skin or the eyes, nose, or mouth of a person or other animal. Only mammals contract rabies. Vaccines are available for cats, dogs, ferrets, horses, cattle and sheep.
The best way to prevent rabies in our pets to have them vaccinated. Raccoons, skunks, and bats are prone to rabies and these wild animals often come into yards and houses. Stray dogs and cats can also be transmitters of rabies, therefore, protect your beloved pet from potential contact with a stray, or unvaccinated, dog or cat. This also can help protect you and your family plus people in your community. If you travel outside the United States, learn what you need to know about rabies in other countries by visiting this website: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/rabies.
The theme for this year’s World Rabies Day is Rabies: Share the Message, Save a Life. Help educate people on the importance of rabies awareness and vaccinating pets against the disease.
Is your dog deaf? How would know if it was?
Like many humans, our canine companions can lose their hearing as they age. My springer/cocker mix, Mary, is now more than twelve years old, and my husband and I have noticed a change – more than one, actually. First, she barks more than she did six months or a year ago. Normally a quiet dog who barked occasionally while in the back yard (after all, we have neighbor dogs and squirrels run through the yard!), she’s started to bark while in the house (very unusual for her) and more so outdoors. Secondly, she doesn’t respond to our voices as readily as she once did. And, third, she is sleeping more deeply than ever. We suspect she is losing her hearing.
Signs of Deafness
According to PetMD.com, these are some of the signs of hearing loss in dogs:
Causes of Deafness
There are a myriad of issues which can cause a dog to become deaf, including the natural aging process. As mentioned, our Mary dog is going on thirteen years of age, and therefore, a senior dog. She also has several allergies and subsequently, her ears are prone to bacterial infections. Inflammation of the outer, inner, or middle ear can cause hearing loss. Here are a few other potential causes:
Some breeds of dogs are susceptible to deafness, therefore, puppies can be prone to the condition (called congenital). Such breeds include cocker spaniels (Mary is part cocker), Dalmatians, West Highland terriers, and Boston terriers, among others.
Having an older dog like Mary and noticing behavior changes, including sleep patterns, can also help you determine if your dog is losing its hearing. For example, if you think your dog is sleeping heavier than normal and s/he doesn’t wake up to noises in your home, or if s/he startles from deep sleep, then your canine companion may be going deaf.
How Can You Know?
DeafDogsRock.com suggests some activities to test your dog’s hearing ability.
A Word on Deaf Cats
Like certain breeds of dogs, there are certain cat breeds that are more susceptible to hearing loss; those include Ragdolls and white Persians. In fact, white cats with blue eyes are the most prone to deafness. If you are the pet guardian of a cat and you’re concerned about hearing loss, PetMD.com and PetWave.com are good resources for you: https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/ears/c_ct_deafness
What to Do?
First, consult with your veterinarian. S/he may find an ear infection that can still be treated. If that’s not the case, seek advice from your pet’s vet.
Second, if you haven’t taught your furry friend hand signals yet, do so. Dogs learn quickly, even older canines. As long as your dog can still see, communicating via hand signals is a major asset and provides your dog the mental stimulation it needs. Train your dog basic commands with hand signals. Keeping your deaf pet safe is of even greater importance as it will not hear cars coming or other noises. Find training tips for deaf dogs here: https://deafdogsrock.com/category/training-tips.
You may need to adjust how you interact with your deaf dog, but living with a canine with hearing loss is not a huge problem. Learn more about living with a deaf dog here: https://www.cesarsway.com/dog-care/senior-dogs/preparing-a-dog-that-is-going-blind-or-deaf
No matter the type of pet you have, its health and happiness depend on you. If your furry friend is or becomes deaf, take the time to help both you and your pet adjust – there are many resources on and off-line available to help you do just that.
Does your dog ever get the hiccups? Mine does.
Sweet Jeremiah, who has been part of my household for a year now, occasionally gets a bout of the hiccups. I don’t remember this experience happening to previous dogs I’ve had, but Jeremiah gets them somewhat regularly. I admit, it’s cute to watch his 12-pound body twinge and a slight “burruup!” come from his tiny mouth. Recently, though, I began to wonder if many dogs get the hiccups since I’ve not had the experience before adopting our little Shih Tzu. Here’s what I learned researching “hiccups in dogs.”
According to PetMD.com:
If your dog does experience hiccups, here are a few things you can do to assist your canine friend through the experience:
Hiccups in dogs are generally not life-threatening nor require a trip to the vet. Just as with humans, they eventually go away; in fact, doggie hiccups usually only last a few minutes. However, there are rare instances when hiccups can be a sign of a more serious health problem, such as respiratory defects, pneumonia, asthma, pericarditis, or heat stroke.
If your puppy or adult dog experiences hiccups, don’t be overly concerned unless the episode lasts longer than 30 minutes. Then, experts say, contact your veterinarian for recommendations, which may include making an appointment to learn if there is an underlying health issue that needs to be investigated.
Here's to cuteness hiccups, not concerning ones!
September can be considered Pet Ownership Responsibility Month, with the American Kennel Club designating Saturday, September 8, as Responsible Dog Ownership Day.
What does pet ownership responsibility mean? First, it means more than simply providing food and water to your dog or cat. Not doing that basic is illegal and is called neglect. But, is it neglect if you only provide food and water and don’t provide attention and interaction with your dog, leaving him or her on a chain under a tree all day? In some places, yes, in other places no.
For those of us who love our pets, it’s a no-brainer to provide them with shelter from wind, rain, snow, and heat, and to interact regularly with them – sitting on a couch watching TV, taking walks and hikes, playing with toys, going for drives, etc.
How can all of us be more responsible pet owners? Hop over to this article posted on the American Veterinary Medical Association website and learn how we can be more responsible toward our furry friends and how we can educate others how to be as well.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.