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Stop rabies

How do I keep my pet from getting rabies?

How do I keep from getting rabies?

What do I do if I am bitten by a wild animal?

Other prevention activities: Oral vaccine program

Stop rabies

How do I keep my pet from getting rabies?

The best way to prevent rabies is to make sure your pets get and stay vaccinated against rabies!!

Other ways to prevent rabies in your pets:

Walk your dog on a leash. Never let them roam freely where wildlife may be present.

  • Consider keeping your pets indoors.
  • Call animal control to take wild or stray animals away, especially if you see an animal acting strangely.
  • If an animal bites your pet, handle your pet carefully so you do not get bitten. Get a rabies booster vaccination for them. Even if they have had the rabies vaccination, a booster shot will help them fight off the disease better.
  • Get your pets spayed or neutered.  Pets that are fixed are less likely to leave home, become strays, and make more stray animals.

Make sure your pet gets and wears their rabies vaccination tags.  They should also wear a tag with their name and your address and phone number.  Keep them in a fenced yard or on a leash.

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How do I keep from getting rabies?

  • Never touch unfamiliar or wild animals. Enjoy wild animals from afar.
  • Avoid direct contact with stray animals.  Stray cats and dogs may not have been vaccinated against rabies.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
  • Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. It is common to want to rescue and nurse a hurt wild animal, but that animal may have rabies. Call an animal control person or animal rescue group if you find a sick animal.
  • Make sure that your trash cans and pet foods are secured so that they do not attract wild animals.

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What do I do if I am bitten by an animal?

  • If you are bitten by an animal, tell an adult immediately! Have the adult wash the wound well with soap and water for at least five minutes. You should then see a doctor as soon as possible for additional evaluation of the wound.
  • Have an adult contact your local animal control officer. If the animal that bit you is a pet (dog, cat, or ferret), the animal may be watched for signs of rabies for about 10 days. If it is a wild animal, the animal control people may need to euthanize the animal to test its brain for rabies.
  • Bites from bats are the main source of rabies in humans in the United States today. It is possible, but rare,  that someone might be bitten by the bat and not know it. If you discover a bat in the house, especially in the room of a sleeping person or child, treat this situation as though an actual bite has occurred. This is especially true if the bat is acting strangely (unusually tame).
  • Contact your local or state health department for more information.

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Other prevention activities: Oral vaccine program

raccoon eating vaccine-laden bait
Here a raccoon eats some bait with a rabies vaccine in it.

Today, many states are vaccinating animals in the wild to prevent the spread of rabies. This is done by putting oral vaccines in a special bait. The baits are then dropped from airplanes or placed in areas where wildlife are likely to be. The wild animals then eat the food with the vaccine in it. This keeps them from getting rabies if they are bitten by a rabid animal. This method has worked well in both Europe and Canada.


rabies vaccination art
Original art by Omar Rayyan.

The idea behind oral rabies vaccination programs is that if enough animals in an area without rabies become vaccinated against the disease, they will create a barrier.  Those animals vaccinated against the disease will defend their territory against animals with rabies.  This will slow or stop the rabies outbreak.

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This page last reviewed February 6, 2003

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