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

 

Pre-exposure Prophylaxis

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.