What Happens If a Dog Catches a Squirrel?
A pet owner may be wondering what happens if a dog catches and eats a squirrel. Luckily, squirrels are tough and do not carry rabies. There are, however, a few things to watch out for if your dog does manage to catch a squirrel. First, check for bites and apply hydrogen peroxide to any blemishes. While squirrels are not likely to carry rabies, they can be carriers of leptospirosis, which attacks the internal organs and is transmitted by the urine of infected animals.
Symptoms of leptospirosis
When a dog catches a squirrel, owners should look for signs of a bacterial infection. The dog may be infected with leptospirosis. The bacteria that causes leptospirosis are excreted in the urine of infected animals, including squirrels. This bacteria can be transmitted to humans through contact with the urine of an infected squirrel. Symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, and loss of appetite. A dog may also show signs of jaundice or yellowing of the skin.
While dogs can recover from a mild infection, symptoms vary from animal to animal. A dog may appear well-recovered, but small numbers of bacteria may continue to survive. This can lead to a low-grade ongoing infection, resulting in long-term shedding of bacteria in the dog’s urine. These dogs are referred to as carriers. These dogs still have signs of leptospirosis.
A dog can also contract leptospirosis if it eats dead animals. This disease is not common, but it is contagious, and can affect both dogs and humans. If your dog catches a squirrel and eats it, make sure to thoroughly clean it with hydrogen peroxide. Squirrels do not carry rabies, but they can carry leptospirosis. Leptospirosis affects the internal organs of your dog, and it can be transmitted to humans through your pet’s urine.
Taking a dog’s antibiotics properly if a dog catches a squirrel
While the initial bite may seem harmless, a squirrel’s sharp teeth can cause bacterial infections and rare diseases. These organisms live in the open and inject bacteria that may be inhaled into the dog’s skin. The bacteria may pass through the skin or penetrate into the underlying tissue, making the dog less able to fight the infection. If your dog has caught a squirrel, make sure to take him to the veterinarian for treatment.
A pet owner should be aware of the signs of a squirrel bite to determine the severity of the disease. The most common signs of leptospirosis in dogs include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, reluctance to move, increased thirst, loss of appetite, a change in frequency of urination, and yellowing of the skin.
In some cases, a squirrel can carry a Lyme disease-causing tick. Fortunately, these are unlikely to transmit the disease to a dog, as a squirrel’s tick does not carry rabies. But you can still take the dog’s antibiotics and prevent a potentially fatal disease. If your dog is on a preventative tick treatment, it is unlikely that it will catch a squirrel that’s carrying a tick.
Managing a dog’s prey drive during ‘low-distraction’ playtime
Managing a dog’s prey-drive is easier said than done. A dog with a high prey-drive needs to constantly be on the lookout for prey. While out and about, you’ll notice your dog scanning the environment. Instead of allowing your dog to focus on the things you’re doing, encourage it to pay more attention to you.
The most effective way to redirect a dog’s attention is to distract it from what it’s looking for, such as a toy. The goal is to get your dog’s attention away from possible prey and focus it on something more acceptable. Successful redirection requires getting your dog’s attention just before or immediately after it notices a prey. Otherwise, the dog will become fixated on its prey and be unable to break free.
To help your dog focus on the task at hand, try taking them out of the house during ‘low-distraction’ time. Managing a dog’s prey drive during ‘low-distraction’ playtime should be a priority for you and your dog. Whether you’re playing fetch or taking your dog for a walk, it’s important to be able to control the prey drive of your dog.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.