Some Common Misconceptions About Rabies

The year is 1983. A horror film called Cujo by Stephen King comes out, and suddenly everyone thinks a dog getting rabies and terrorizing their family is a completely realistic scenario. In the film, the dog gets bitten by a bat, gets given rabies, and the rabies turn the dog into a raving lunatic. The dog then proceeds to terrorize the Mother and Son who have been caring for it its entire life. The thing is, rabies is not quite how Stephen King portrayed it, and not nearly as easy to get or as common as one would think. Allow us a brief moment of your time to clear up some rabies rumors.

First off, rabies is not nearly as prevalent as people may worry. If your dog has had its rabies shots, which most dogs have, the issue is even less of a source of worry. Yes, dogs can be bitten and given rabies, but something as simple as regular shots can prevent that. The virus is passed when infected saliva enters broken skin, and it is a viral disease the affects the central nervous system of warm blooded animals.

Another myth we want to work at dispelling about rabies is that all dogs who have rabies foam at the mouth. That is simply not true. While rabies does make it so a dog cannot swallow its saliva, this does not mean that all dogs will foam at the mouth when they have rabies. Foaming can take time, and if you think that you will be able to tell if a dog has rabies simply by foam around its mouth, you are mistaken. A dog can have no foam around the mouth and still be infected.

One last myth we wanted to address is that all dogs who have rabies turn into vicious lunatics. While that is the case most of the time, often, rabies affects a dog in an opposite way of its personality. In other words, a normally calm dog will turn more vicious, and a dog who may be aggressive and vicious may turn lethargic. There is no one uniform way a dog acts when it gets rabies, so to assume all dogs who have rabies will be a foaming killer is just inaccurate.

So, in essence, do not walk around fearing rabies for your dog. Make sure it gets its shot, and you will pretty much ensure you and your dog will be alright. Just be aware, as much as it is often portrayed in fiction, rabies is very serious and not something to scoff at.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

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