Bites and Rabies

Rabies is a deadly virus that affects warm-blooded animals, and humans. The disease is most often transmitted when an infected animal bites another animal or person. Once the rabies virus enters the body, it travels along the nerves to the brain, causing a variety of symptoms and eventually death.

However, people who have been exposed to rabies can survive if they receive treatment quickly, before the onset of symptoms, with a series of medications and vaccinations. There is no treatment once the clinical signs of rabies appear.

How Common is Rabies?

Rabies is fairly common in wild animals, which is the primary source of infection for domestic animals, including pets. Skunks, bats, foxes, coyotes, and raccoons are the most common species reported positive for rabies in Texas.

Prevention Tips

  • Keep pets vaccinated. This is the most effective way to protect your pet from the rabies virus. Owners of dogs and cats are required by law to keep their pets current on rabies vaccinations.
  • Keep pets in a fenced yard or on a leash, and do not allow them to roam freely.
  • Enjoy wildlife from a distance. Do not approach, pet or touch wild animals.
  • Report ill, injured and stray animals to Irving Animal Services at (972) 721-2256.


Animals with rabies may show a variety of signs, including fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling, difficulty eating and drinking, staggering/difficulty walking, paralysis and seizures. Aggressive behavior is common, but rabid animals may also be uncharacteristically affectionate. 

Horses and livestock with rabies also may exhibit depression, self-mutilation (scratching and biting at themselves until they bleed), or increased sensitivity to light.

Rabid wild animals may lose their natural fear of humans, and display unusual behavior such as boldness, aggression, or excitement. Rabid bats may be unable to fly.

If you suspect an animal may have rabies, call Irving Animal Services at (972) 721-2256.

If You are Bitten or Scratched

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, follow these steps. They may save your life.

  • Thoroughly wash the wound right away with soap and water and rinse well. 
  • Identify the animal by kind, size, color and location.
  • See a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will determine what treatment you may need.
  • Report the incident to Irving Animal Services at (972) 721-2256. If the animal can be captured, it will be quarantined or tested for rabies

More Information

Access our frequently asked questions regarding the topic of animal bites and rabies. For more information visit the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) rabies resource.