About rabies

Rabies is a potentially fatal viral disease which attacks the nervous system of warm blooded animals, including humans.

The rabies virus is concentrated in the saliva of infected animals. It is spread when the saliva enters a cut or wound of another animal or human through a bite or scratch. The virus can also be passed through contact with mucous membranes such as the mouth or eyes.

Once symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal in animals and humans.

Animal Bite / Contact Report

Recognize signs of rabies

There are two types of rabies:

  • Dumb Rabies
  • Furious Rabies

Animals suffering from dumb rabies may become depressed and hide in isolated places. Wild animals may become unusually friendly.

Animals suffering from furious rabies may become excited and aggressive, alternating with periods of depression.

Prevent a bite

  • Make sure your pets are vaccinated against rabies.
  • Don't let your pets run free and keep them indoors at night.
  • Remove all outdoor food sources for wild animals.
  • Do not handle dead animals.
  • Be cautious with both wild animals and pets that do not belong to you; stay at a safe distance.
  • Do not tease animals.
  • Never disturb a dog or cat while they are sleeping, eating, or caring for their young.

If you think your animals are sick - call your vet!

After a bite

If a person or a pet is bitten or scratched, the affected area should be thoroughly washed with soap and water. Washing greatly reduces the chance of infection.

Next, call your family doctor or go to the nearest hospital emergency department or urgent care facility. Also report the bite or scratch to Region of Waterloo Public Health at 519-575-4400.

Animal Bite / Contact Report

Preventive vaccination for pets

It is the law. All cats and dogs over the age of three months must be vaccinated against rabies as required by the Rabies Immunization Regulation (Reg. 567 as amended to O.Reg 360/01 under the Health Protection Promotion Act). Pet owners whose animals are not immunized can be fined.

Region of Waterloo Public Health - Program Overview

To ensure your safety, Region of Waterloo Public Health:

  • Investigates all reported animal bites to humans.
  • Ensures that dogs and cats are quarantined for a ten-day period.
  • Arranges to test wild animals after they have bitten humans.
  • Ensures that people exposed to a potentially rabid animal receive treatment.
  • Provides education to the community about rabies.
  • Promotes the vaccination of cats and dogs.

Rabies Program Overview - Presentation

Test your knowledge...

...take the Rabies Quiz

More information

To learn how you can tell if an animal has rabies, how to treat a bite, and for more information about rabies, check our Rabies Fact Sheet.

Region of Waterloo Public Health
Fight the Bite Brochure 

Region of Waterloo Public Health, Health Protection and Investigation: 519-575-4400.

Refer to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry webpage for up to date Rabies Wildlife Surveillance and Control Zones. The map indicates locations in Ontario where wildlife have tested positive for rabies and  the areas under increased surveillance and control to limit the spread of rabies in wildlife.

Rabies Vaccine-Bait Identification Fact Sheet - Ministry of Natural Resources - Wildlife Research and Monitoring Section

Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians

Ministry of Health and Long Term Care

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Centres of Disease Control and Prevention