If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, follow these steps:

  1. If possible, collect animal owner/custodian information (name, address and phone number).
  2. Immediately wash the bite or wound with soap and water for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Apply an antiseptic to the wound.
  4. Seek medical attention from a healthcare provider to assess your risk and discuss treatment options.
  5. If you would like to report an animal bite or scratch to Toronto Public Health, submit an Online Animal Exposure Report.

Access Animal Exposure Report

Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system of warm-blooded animals, including humans. The virus can be transmitted from an infected animal through:

  • bites that break the skin
  • saliva entering an open wound
  • saliva entering the mouth, nose or eyes

Further information on Rabies can be found on the Rabies Prevention and Control web page.

Treatment to prevent rabies, if necessary, is most effective if started promptly after the exposure. The need for rabies treatment is assessed by your healthcare provider and will depend on:

  • the type of animal involved
  • where the exposure occurred (e.g., location in Toronto or while travelling to another country)
  • the reason for exposure (e.g., if it was provoked, such as feeding a wild animal, or an unprovoked attack)
  • whether the animal is a domestic pet whose health and rabies vaccination status can be determined

For more information on rabies treatment, see the Rabies Vaccine and Immune Globulin Fact Sheet.

Share your information

Provide the person who was bitten or scratched the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your phone number

Providing this information to the person bitten/scratched will help TPH connect with you to determine your animal’s health status. This may help the person bitten/scratched to avoid potentially unnecessary medical treatment.

TPH follow-up: What to expect?

TPH investigates animal bites and scratches to prevent and control the transmission of rabies. A Public Health Inspector may:

  1. Contact you to request further details (e.g., about the incident, animal vaccination status, etc.)
  2. Visually assess the health of your animal as soon as possible after receiving a bite/scratch report.
  3. Require a 10-day observation period of your animal in your home*. During this period, it is important for you to:
    • Limit the interaction between your animal and other animals or persons.
    • Immediately call TPH at 416-338-7600 during normal business hours (or 311/416-392-CITY after business hours) if your animal appears unwell, escapes, dies or if the animal’s behavior changes.
    • Ensure that your animal is not re-immunized against rabies.
  4. Reassess the health of your animal, after the 10-day observation period to ensure your animal is healthy and did not develop any signs of rabies.

These best practices help protect other people and pets in Toronto from rabies.

*Animal owners know their animals the best. TPH prefers that animals are confined at home with their owner/custodian in order to observe any changes in their pet’s health.

If a person is bitten or scratched, Toronto Public Health will, depending on the case:

  • assist healthcare providers to assess the level of risk associated with an exposure
  • provide rabies vaccine to healthcare providers upon request
  • confine domestic animals (dogs, cats and ferrets) for a 10-day period to observe if they develop rabies*
  • confine livestock animals (e.g., horse) for a 14-day period to observe if they develop rabies*
  • arrange for wild animals to be euthanized for rabies testing

*Animal owners know their animals the best. TPH prefers that animals are confined at home with their owner/custodian in order to observe any changes in their pet’s health.