Rabies is an often fatal viral infection that is transferred when a pet comes into contact with an infected host. Most often, exposure occurs through contact with affected wildlife, namely bats, coyotes, foxes, or skunks. A rabid animal could bite another or make contact with an existing wound, resulting in an infection; transmission can also occur when an animal makes contact with infected saliva through the eyes or mouth. Being that the virus is zoonotic, humans are capable of contracting rabies from their pets.

A rabies vaccination is currently required by law in every state; however, exemptions do exist in 15 states. An exemption can be obtained for various reasons, including if the pet owner plans on keeping their pet in isolation or if a serious medical issue proves the vaccination would cause more harm than good. In most cases, veterinarians strongly recommend a rabies vaccination for all mammalian pets, and booster shots are required every one to three years.

Symptoms that a pet has rabies

There are several different phases during which a rabid pet will exhibit symptoms of rabies: the prodromal phase, the furious phase, and the paralytic phase. The furious phase most commonly occurs among cats, and the paralytic phase can occur either after the prodromal or furious phase. It can take up to eight weeks for noticeable symptoms to appear; however, a pet can become contagious up to ten days prior.

Prodromal phase: 

  • Bouts of irritability
  • Fever
  • Nervousness
  • Shyness
  • Solitude

Furious phase: 

  • Biting
  • Disorientation
  • Increased sensitivity to sound and light
  • Irritability
  • Possible viciousness
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures

Paralytic phase: 

  • Eventual respiratory failure
  • Facial paralysis
  • Inability to swallow
  • Increased salivation
  • Labored breathing

What do I do if my pet is exposed to rabies?

Rabies is impossible to positively diagnose in a living animal or human. In order to definitively determine whether a pet has the virus, the brain tissue must be examined; therefore, tests are not conducted until a pet has passed on.

If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to a rabid animal, call the veterinarian immediately. Also, be sure to report the incident to your local health department and animal control center, and listen to their recommendations. If you must handle your pet, be sure to do so cautiously, as the virus can live on a pet’s skin for a few hours. Preventative measures, including wearing gloves and protective clothing, are the best way to prevent self-exposure to the virus.

Pets that are up-to-date on their vaccinations and have been bitten will be immediately administered with another vaccination and should be closely monitored by their owners for the next 45 days. If a pet is not vaccinated, euthanasia is highly recommended. If a pet owner is against euthanasia, it is possible to keep the pet in isolation for a 6 month period (usually at a pound or shelter), administering a vaccination immediately and again after 28 days. In these instances, it is rare that the pet will survive, but it still remains an option. If a vaccination has lapsed, public health officials will determine what action to take based on how past-due a pet is, the pet’s overall health, and how severe the exposure was.

If you have any questions about rabies or preventative measures you can take for your pet, please contact our office.


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Here's a vet that still cares.
Just wanted to say I love Dr. Petcu's staff and his compassionate , caring way of taking care of my dogs.The staff is not only friendly and professional ,they know who you are when you arrive ,and they actually love animals. Is the first Animal Hospital that my dogs are at ease and feel comfortable.The place is very clean and the reception area very elegant and inviting. Exquisite services and Dr. Petcu always take his time to explain the disease and options and still finds time to play with my dogs. He's always treated both his animal and human patients with compassion and dignity,and would never recommend procedures unless he truly feels your pet will benefit from it. One of the vets that cares for your pet. The prices are reasonable and the services exceed all expectations. I Highly recommend Dr.Petcu and his hospital.

Reba S

Western Animal Hospital AMAZING! Western Animal Hospital is the best place in the valley .The staff is professional, friendly, caring and accommodating. The hospital is very clean and upscale. The customer service and the provided services are outstanding.Dr. Petcu is one of the most professional veterinarians that i have ever met in my 25 years of pet parenting. I drive across the valley just to see him( i live in Anthem) .He really cares about his animal patients and it shows in every visits . He is very knowledgeable , compassionate, friendly and always takes the time to answer any question i have and explaining in detail any situation we are dealing with. I had my share of visits to many animal hospitals in the valley but none of them had the last technology as Western - digital X-ray ( they send you home with a cd for you x-ray records ) every room has a computer monitor where the x-ray shows and Dr. Petcu can review with me every detail of it. Also they have the laser surgery and digital dental x-ray. Dr. petcu is one of the most
courteous and pleasant Vets I have ever met. The prices are more than reasonable and also they try to accommodate everybody. I cannot recommend them enough. You can rest easy knowing your pets are in their care.I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THIS HOSPITAL - THEY HAVE A CUSTOMER FOR LIFE IN ME! very good !

Betty K

Western Animal Hospital this doctor is making a lot of sense and will explain everything in details..
prices are great ....

.the best vet I met !! Pam M. 5 Western Animal Hospital - we are bringing our pets to Dr Petcu for 8 years. He was always helpful, many times we did not have the funds to treat our pets but he was fine with us paying when we had the money. He saved our cats in many instances and all I have to say is that I greatly reccomend Western Animal Hospital for any responsable pet owner .

Yolanda M

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