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Rabies information

Learn about the disease, and how you can protect yourself and pets from it.


Rabies is a viral disease that affects all mammals, including humans. It attacks the central nervous system and is transmitted through saliva. Controlling this disease is a top priority since it affects animals and humans.

The Massachusetts Public Health Department and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife investigate every potential rabies exposure. The goal is to prevent the spread of rabies.


Dogs, cats, and ferrets must get rabies shots. The first round of shots lasts for one year. After that, your pet needs to get three-year booster shots. Your dog’s rabies vaccinations need to be up-to-date to get a dog license in the City. Learn how to get a dog license.


Here are some tips to stay safe outdoors:

  • Never go near a wild animal or stray pet, even if it looks friendly or hurt. Look out for animals that seem confused, aggressive, or unusually slow.
  • Feed your pets indoors and make sure your garbage is contained.
  • Keep your pet's shots current, and don't let them roam around by themselves.
  • Foaming at the mouth doesn't always mean an animal has rabies.
  • Be wary of wild animals that act friendly — they may be sick. Wild animals are naturally scared of humans.
  • Never handle wild animals or keep them as pets.

With the cleaning of green areas, wildlife is returning to the City. Wild animals now have more places to live and look for food in Boston. By respecting wildlife, you protect yourself, your pets, and other animals.

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