Rabies Prevention and Treatment
Protecting People and Pets from Rabies
To protect people and pets from rabies:
- Vaccinate your pet dogs and cats against rabies. This is required under Ontario law (Health Protection and Promotion Act, Regulation 567). The Toronto Animal Services’ Chip Truck is a mobile license and microchip clinic that also offers low cost rabies vaccination.
- Always supervise your pet dogs. They should not run loose in public spaces, unless in off-leash parks.
- Stay away from all wild animals, whether they appear tame, injured, or sick.
- Do not feed wild animals or keep wild animals as pets.
- Wildlife-proof your home and yard. Store garbage bins inside a garage / basement until the morning of pick-up.
- Contact appropriate agencies if you come into contact with wild animals or stray / domestic pets.
- For more information on wildlife in Toronto, visit Toronto Animal Services – Wildlife in the City
If bitten or scratched by an animal:
- Immediately wash the bite or wound with soap and water for at least 15 minutes.
- Apply an antiseptic to the wound.
- Seek medical attention from a physician to assess your risk and discuss treatment options.
Treatment to prevent rabies is most effective if started promptly after the exposure. The need for post-exposure prophylaxis 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 post-exposure prophylaxis, see the Rabies Vaccine and Immune Globulin Fact Sheet.
If a bite or scratch occurs, Toronto Public Health assists with investigations by:
- Confining domestic animals (dogs, cats and ferrets) for a 10-day period to observe if they develop rabies
- Arranging for wild animals to be euthanized for rabies testing
Rabies pre-exposure prophylaxis consists of a series of vaccinations that can help protect people before they may be exposed to rabies from the bite or scratch from an animal.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis is recommended for people at high risk of close contact with rabid animals or the rabies virus, including:
- People who work closely with animals, such as veterinarians and veterinary staff, animal control, and wildlife workers
- Laboratory workers handling the rabies virus
- Hunters and trappers in areas with confirmed rabies
- People who explore caves (spelunkers)
- Certain travelers to countries or areas at risk. Contact a travel medicine clinic for consultation.