Rabies is a very serious and usually fatal disease caused by one of a number of rabies viruses. If you are bitten or scratched by an animal that may have rabies, or seems sick and behaves strangely, it is crucial to begin preventative treatment for rabies as soon as possible. This includes washing the wound well and seeking medical care.
Cats, dogs, and ferrets should receive their first
rabies vaccination at the age of 3 months and their
second vaccination at the age of 1 year. After the second vaccination, the need
for revaccination of cats and dogs is determined by the type of vaccine used,
by the number of rabies cases in your local area, and local
Yearly vaccination may be needed in areas with a
high incidence of rabies.
Vaccination every 3 years may be needed
in areas with a low incidence of rabies.
Ferrets should be
vaccinated every year.
Check with your veterinarian for the rabies vaccination schedule in
If you have an exotic pet, check with your vet to find out what vaccinations the pet
needs. Most common exotic animal bites come from:
Skunks and raccoons. Wild (endemic) populations
of skunks and raccoons have the greatest risk for having
Ferrets. These animals can transmit rabies.
If you have questions about local rabies issues, contact your local
health unit. If you will be travelling with your pet, check with your vet
about the protection your animal needs and the risk your animal has for getting
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerW. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine