Protecting your pets from rabies
In December, Ontario had its first confirmed case of rabies in the raccoon population in 10 years. The raccoon was picked up and caged in the back of an animal service van where it was able to get get loose and injure a pair of bull mastiff dogs. The dogs appear to have avoided contracting rabies, but the raccoon did test positive and was destroyed.
Ontario has seen the odd case of rabies in bats here and there for years, but a re-emergence in the raccoon population is a cause for concern. Rabies is commonly spread by bite from an infected animal where saliva gets into the victim’s flesh.
Any bite wounds on pets or people should be washed with soap and water immediately. If there is a possibility that you or an animal were exposed to rabies, or witness a sick animal, notify the city of Toronto at (905) 546-2489 and call your doctor or veterinarian, as treatment is needed as quickly as possible.
Pets should be vaccinated for rabies, as should people who are at at high risk of being exposed to rabid animals. Do not let your pets interact with wild animals and supervise their time outdoors if they could potentially encounter a raccoon.
The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system. Infected cats and dogs will show mild symptoms that will quickly become dramatic if the disease is left untreated. Pets that are far along in the disease will typically either develop a state of paralysis, or one of violent aggressiveness. Symptoms include fevers, seizures, lack of coordination, changes in audible sounds, changes in behavior, excessive and frothy saliva, jaws that will not close and an inability to swallow.