Animals and rabies
How to help prevent rabies and details about adopting or importing dogs from outside Canada.
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the central nervous system of warm-blooded animals, including people. It's spread through the saliva and mucus membranes of an infected animal.
The chance of running into a rabid animal in Ontario is very low. The animals that most often transmit rabies are foxes, skunks, bats, and raccoons. Humans and their pets can become infected when they encounter an animal that has rabies.
Rabies can be prevented. Follow this advice:
- Keep a safe distance from wild animals, even if they look healthy. Wild animals that have rabies may also show no fear of people and might easily come close to you; this being unusual behaviour for wild animals.
- Stay away from animals that are acting strangely or are injured or sick. Notify animal control if it is a wild animal.
- Keep your pet's vaccination up to date.
If you've been bitten or scratched by an animal that may have rabies
- Clean and wash the bite or scratch thoroughly with soap and water.
- Call your family doctor or go to the nearest hospital for treatment right away.
- Report the incident to Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700 or email us. A Public Health Inspector will investigate the incident.
Rabies can be prevented if you seek medical treatment quickly after being bitten or scratched by an animal. Treatment for rabies is safe and effective but must be given as soon as possible after you have been bitten or scratched
As of September 28, 2022, commercial dogs from countries at high-risk for dog rabies will no longer be allowed entry into Canada.
Commercial dogs can include, but are not limited to, dogs for resale, adoption, fostering, breeding, show or exhibition, research, and other purposes. Learn more about this new measure from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Bringing pets to Canada from certain countries carries a risk of spreading rabies to other animals and people. Dog rabies kills close to 60,000 people every year globally in over 100 countries that are at high-risk for dog rabies.
Even if pets have been vaccinated for rabies in another country, they must be re-vaccinated after their arrival in Ontario. The vaccine must be administered by a veterinarian as required by law (R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 567).
For people thinking of buying or adopting a dog, if you are a dog breeder or if you are with a rescue organization, refer to the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency's questions before your buy or adopt a dog.