Did you see your dog catch and eat a squirrel?
Or have you found some rather suspicious fur scattered in the backyard and noticed that your dog has a rather guilty expression?
If you’re pretty sure that your dog has eaten a squirrel, you’re probably anxious about the consequences and next steps.
If your dog killed the squirrel himself before eating it, there’s usually no need to panic but there are things you need to do.
If the squirrel bit your dog, clean the wounds with hydrogen peroxide.
If your dog ate a squirrel that was already dead, you will have to try to find out whether the squirrel was poisoned.
Contact your dog’s veterinarian for advice and bring the animal in for testing to make sure that he didn’t catch any parasites or bacterial infections from the squirrel.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Kills And Eats A Squirrel?
If you see that your dog has caught a squirrel, it’s probably best to try to stop him from eating it. Use the “leave it” command.
If your dog doesn’t already know this command and how to obey it, teach it so that you will be able to deal with things more effectively if the situation arises again.
If you have a yard where you can bury the squirrel, do so but choose an area that your dog does not go into (as he will try to dig it up).
If this is not possible or you don’t have a yard, wrap the dead squirrel in garbage bags, at least two layers of them.
Once you’ve done that, contact a vet clinic in your area to ask if they can take it. If they cannot, contact Animal Control.
They should be able to pick up the dead squirrel. You should do this as quickly as possible.
Can Dogs Get Sick from Killing a Squirrel?
If your dog killed and ate a squirrel, the only negative effects your pet will probably experience will be bites from the squirrel and the possibility that he has caught ticks.
Dogs can catch ticks just from being out in the garden, though, so make sure your dog is always being given a preventative tick treatment.
This is important because ticks can carry Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease is a serious disease and has symptoms such as loss of appetite, fever, joint pain, and lameness.
If you think your dog could have contracted Lyme Disease, bring him to the vet. If he tests positive, he will need to be given antibiotics. The treatment usually lasts 30 days.
In some regions of the United States, squirrels carry leptospirosis.
This is a species of bacteria that adversely affects the internal organs, especially the kidneys and liver.
Leptospirosis can be carried in the squirrel’s urine. If your dog is exposed to that urine, for example, if the urine is released while he is killing the squirrel, he could catch it.
It’s extremely rare (or even unheard of) for rabies to be contracted as a result of contact with a squirrel.
Rabies usually kills squirrels very quickly, most often before they’ve had a chance to spread the disease.
Still, if your dog is bitten or scratched by a squirrel or eats a squirrel, you should call your vet for advice.
Why Do Dogs Chase Squirrels?
Dogs chase squirrels because of their natural instincts as a predator, as well as their love of fun and exercise! Certain breeds of dogs have stronger instincts in this area than others.
For example, terriers are especially enthusiastic hunters of all kinds of rodents, including squirrels. This is because they were originally bred to hunt vermin.
Some pet owners worry that if their dog had killed a squirrel it might mean that they are aggressive or dangerous.
There is no need to be concerned about this. Your dog’s desire to catch a squirrel is perfectly natural and something he does instinctively.
A dog that killed a squirrel is not dangerous to you or other people. The two things are entirely unrelated.
Your dog would never see you or another person as prey. It might mean, however, that you should be careful about letting your dog be around small animals.
The canine propensity for chasing squirrels is just one reason why it’s important to keep your dog under proper control at all times.
What Could Happen If Your Dog Eats a Dead Squirrel?
If your dog has eaten a squirrel that was already dead when he found it, there is more of a risk to your pet’s well-being, in fact, if the squirrel has been rotting for several days, it could have an infestation of parasites.
Also, your dog will end up with food poisoning that will involve a lot of diarrhea.
The most worrying part of your dog eating an already dead squirrel is the possibility that the squirrel could have been poisoned.
If the squirrel has poison in its system, this will end up inside your dog.
While it’s against the law for people to poison squirrels, there is a possibility that your neighbors might have done so anyway because they have a problem with squirrels nesting in their attics.
This is why if your dog eats a dead squirrel, you need to diplomatically ask your neighbors to confide in you if they have used poison on squirrels.
If they tell you that they have, you must bring your dog to the vet immediately.
If your dog has ingested any poison as a result of eating a dead squirrel, he will probably become very ill.
The dose of poison he will have ingested probably won’t lead to death, but it will cause a significant level of sickness that will need veterinary treatment.
Two of the parasites that your dog can become infected with if they eat a dead squirrel are roundworm and coccidia.
Your dog will get roundworm if the squirrel he eats is infected with roundworm larvae.
When your dog has roundworms, the worms consume the nutrients your dog gets from his diet. This means that your pet will end up malnourished.
It is essential that roundworm is promptly treated to prevent your dog from becoming dangerously ill.
Some of the symptoms of roundworm can include lethargy, abdominal swelling, vomiting, loss of appetite, abnormal feces, colic, and coughing.
The coughing indicates that the larvae have entered the lungs. If you think your dog might have roundworm, seek veterinary treatment.
Some of the symptoms of coccidia include vomiting, dehydration, diarrhea (this can even include blood and mucus if the illness is especially severe), and loss of appetite. Immunosuppressed and young dogs tend to be most susceptible to coccidia.
While it’s very rare for death to occur as a result of coccidia, it can cause dehydration and other effects that can be dangerous in themselves.
Be aware that some dogs that contract coccidia are asymptomatic and act as carriers of the parasite. You should have your dog tested if he eats a squirrel.
How to Stop Your Dog From Eating a Dead Squirrel
The best way of stopping your dog from eating a dead squirrel is through the use of the “leave it” command.
Of course, in order for this command to be effective, your dog must know it and be used to obeying it long before he sees and wants to eat the dead squirrel!
Get started on teaching your dog the “leave it” command so that you have that tool at hand if he ever wants to eat a dead squirrel.
There are several different methods of teaching “leave it.”
One popular way is to place a treat on the floor. As your dog comes over to investigate or tries to eat it, use your foot to cover the treatment.
Keep your foot resolutely in place until your dog gives up on getting the treat. Giving up means generally means walking away and becoming interested in something else.
After your dog finally gives up, say the word “yes” or use a clicker, and then give your dog a reward.
This reward will be another (specifically a different) treat.
Go through this entire process over and over until your dog understands when he needs to leave something alone and the fact that he will be rewarded if he obeys.
Once this milestone has been met, try putting the treat on the floor but not covering it, only saying “leave it” to tell your dog that he shouldn’t try to eat it.
After your dog has demonstrated that he can obey this, try it on walks, as well.
Are Squirrels Dangerous For Dogs?
In all seriousness, however, squirrels can carry certain parasites and have ticks that can lead to health problems for your pet.
As we discussed earlier, squirrels can carry parasites (for example, roundworms) and they can have ticks on their body that can travel over to your dog.
Ticks carry a host of diseases, such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, tularemia, American canine hepatozoonosis (ACH), and others.
This is why it’s essential that you treat your dog with preventative tick treatments on a regular basis.
Talk to your vet for more information. Your dog can pick up ticks even from being in the same yard as an animal (such as a squirrel) that has them.
Are Squirrels Droppings Dangerous For Dogs?
Squirrel droppings often contain salmonella bacteria and leptospirosis.
They are very tiny, often around the size of a grain of rice. Leptospirosis can be found in squirrel urine, as well.
Leptospirosis is often referred to as “lepto.”
Leptospirosis is most likely to thrive in damp environments, especially where there are puddles. Make sure that your dog is vaccinated against leptospirosis.
Can Dogs Eat Squirrels?
Dogs can eat squirrels, but they shouldn’t, in fact, as we have seen there are few risks related to eating squirrels especially if they are already dead.
Squirrels are bound to visit many places and eat many things and even if they don’t get poisoned, you never know what your dog might end up ingesting when they eat one.
That’s why if your dog ate a squirrel, the first thing to do is always to call the emergency hotline or a professional and ask how to proceed.
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