Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system of mammals – including dogs and cats. It’s usually spread through saliva.
When the virus has been contracted, it travels via the nervous system to the brain and causes a variety of signs including sudden changes in behaviour such as restlessness, sensitivity to light, touch and sound, aggression and, in some cases, paralysis. Dogs may attack other animals, people and/or inanimate objects. In some cases, they will develop a fever.
Once an animal is showing clinical signs, there is no effective treatment.
Although incidents of rabies are extremely rare in the UK, many owners like to travel overseas with their dogs and, on these occasions, it is essential that an adequate vaccine regime is adhered to.
Current regulations state that dogs must be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before travelling to an EU country or a country with which the UK has an arrangement under the pet travel scheme. However, your veterinarian will advise you on the prevailing regulations. Puppies must be at least 12 weeks old before receiving the rabies vaccination.
When travelling overseas with dogs, it is advisable to exercise them on a lead at all times, to avoid contact with wild and domestic animals.