what to do if your dog gets bit by a raccoon

What To Do If Your Dog Gets Bitten By a Raccoon?

It’s only natural to panic if your dog gets bitten by a raccoon. The first fear comes from the knowledge that raccoons are major carriers of rabies. According to the Human Society of the U.S., raccoons are the number one mammal with rabies in the eastern U.S.

So, that fear is well justified, but as a dog owner, you should know what to do if your dog gets bitten by a raccoon. First, you can either call the vet immediately or monitor your dog and give at least ten days of observation. If your dog starts acting unusual, then it is time to contact the vet. 

Despite all of the panic and confusion when your dog just got bitten by a raccoon, you have to be certain that the fight between the two animals is over before you physically intervene. Don’t get in between your dog and a raccoon while they are fighting – it’s absolutely unsafe!

Rabies is one of the most infectious diseases, but unless you take in fluid from a host, you’re good. For your dog, it could destroy his nervous system, and your dog can get seriously sick within days.

Nevertheless, you can’t be certain your dog got infected without observing him for a couple of days unless you choose to take him to the vet immediately after the incident. In this post, we’ve provided guides and facts to help you handle raccoon attacks and bites.

What to do if your dog gets bitten by a raccoon? First, you’ll want to know what happens if a dog gets bitten by a raccoon.

What happens if a dog gets bit by a racoon?
Photo by Dominik QN on Unsplash

What Happens if a Dog Gets Bitten by a Raccoon?

If a raccoon bites your furry buddy, he can get rabies instantly. But that’s not always the case.

If your dog is not vaccinated, then rabies is more likely to spread easily in his system. With the virus in your dog’s brain, it could spread speedily through his salivary gland.

And when this happens, your pup can spread it around through his saliva. A dog infected with rabies will most likely show behavioral changes even if it takes some days after the infection. If your dog is infected, he may show aggression and will become restless most of the time.

Also, if your dog used to be friendly, he’ll become irritable; if he’s a hyper dog, he’ll suddenly have low energy. In all, one of the most common behaviors in a rabies-infected dog is aggression. They’ll snap or bite at anything that irritates them – and almost anything will irritate them during this time.    

They’ll lick and bite their wounds. You should also watch out for fever. When the virus gets worse, they’ll become hypersensitive to light, sound, and touch. They’ll begin to act weird with odd behaviors that’ll be hard not to notice.

If you see your dog sulk in the corner or start eating objects he’ll normally not eat; he’s most likely been infected by that raccoon he fought. Rabies makes dogs experience paralysis in their mouth and throat.

That said, if a raccoon bit your dog, he’s most likely infected. You can choose to wait for a couple of days to be sure, or you can take him to the vet immediately. The latter is the safest option.

Can Dogs Get Sick from Raccoons?

Raccoons can be super aggressive and hostile. Nonetheless, not all raccoons are aggressive – most raccoons will run if your dog approaches them, especially if your pup is massive. Raccoons will naturally come around your house to find food and not to fight.

But if they fight with your dog, your pup could get sick through a bite from an infected raccoon. If your dog is lucky enough to be bitten by a rabies-free raccoon, he won’t get sick.

However, why take the risk when you can protect your dog through vaccination against rabies? With rabies vaccination, even if your dog gets bitten by a rabies-infected animal multiple times, there’s no need to visit the vet; he won’t get sick. You’ll only have to give him pain killers and antibiotics if the bites and scratches are severe.

What to Do if Your Dog Gets Bitten by a Raccoon?

If your dog gets bitten by a raccoon, the first thing to do is not act in panic, especially in trying to get rid of the raccoon. As clichéd as “don’t panic” might sound, it is the first thing to remember.

You can throw an object at the raccoon to chase it away before trying to grab your dog. Don’t try to grab your dog during the fight. After that, there are several things you can do to help your dog with the wounds.

If your dog killed the raccoon, the first thing to do is test the raccoon for rabies. If the raccoon doesn’t have rabies, then your furry buddy isn’t in any danger. But if your dog didn’t kill the raccoon or you can’t find it to determine if it has rabies, consider taking the following precautions:

Visit or call your vet instantly. As earlier mentioned, raccoons are one of the major rabies carriers in Northern America, especially in the eastern part of the U.S.

You can try to offer first aid if the bite is severe, but first aid doesn’t handle rabies, so you need professional help. Follow all the instructions from the vet and monitor your pooch closely.

What to Do If My Dog Gets in a Fight with a Raccoon?

Both dogs and raccoons are territorial animals. But dogs are more likely to attack a raccoon in its territory, and a raccoon messing around your house or insight can disturb your dog’s sense of security.

So, if you catch your pup fighting or about to fight a raccoon, you should make your presence known to both of them. Unless they are deep into the fight already, the raccoon will most likely zoom off at the sight of you.

Wild raccoons might not be scared of dogs, but they are definitely scared of humans, so with only a sound from you, they’ll likely runoff. That said, even though raccoons are scared of humans, you shouldn’t get in the way of an aggressive raccoon looking to rip off any threat in its way.

Pulling your dog off while it’s trying to get to your dog is also dangerous, so if your voice isn’t getting rid of it, try throwing objects at it. Irrespective of what you use to chase the raccoon, add your voice to scare it away.

Nonetheless, you don’t have to stop your dog from defending his territory. Chasing away the raccoon with your dog will keep that particular raccoon away. Also, if you must get close to the fight, ensure you have your shoes on and something to protect your hands.

Can a dog get rabies from biting a raccoon?
Photo by patrice schoefolt from Pexels

Can My Dog Get Rabies from a Raccoon Scratch?

Rabies is mostly contracted through a bite. It can also be transmitted via direct contact with a host. It can spread through direct contact with the nose, eyes, or saliva.

While rabies is spread mostly through a bite, it is also possible to contract it from other exposures, including abrasions or scratches.

Even though the chances of getting rabies through a scratch from a raccoon are minimal, it is still possible. After some time, the virus infects the salivary gland, so when the raccoon licks its claws, they become infected too.

And if a raccoon that just licked its claws scratches your pup, it is very likely for him to get infected. A raccoon’s scratch is both dangerous to you and your dog as you can not tell if it has its saliva on its claws. So, if you’re worried about a raccoon’s bite, it’s safe also to be worried about its scratch too.

Other Concerns About a Raccoon’s Bite

If your dog gets bitten by a raccoon, the first concern is usually about the risk of rabies infection. But a bite wound from any wild animal is not only rabies-risky. Bacteria from an animal’s mouth gets injected deep into the skin, a place where bacteria thrive easily.

So, since you’ll want to see the vet irrespective of your dog’s vaccination status, it’s best to have the vet assess the wound and treat it for infection.

Bite wounds usually need to be flushed and cleaned, and since there are high chances of infections, the vet will most likely suggest that your pooch take some antibiotics.

With the chances of rabies in a non-vaccinated dog and the risk of bacterial infection, there are other possible disorders to keep in mind. A major disorder to be aware of is known as “coonhound paralysis.”

Coon hound paralysis in dogs is the rapid onset of acute inflammation that damages multiple nerves. Affected dogs tend to lose voluntary back legs movement, affecting the front legs with time. This condition mostly occurs when your dog is exposed to a raccoon’s saliva, which could easily happen when your dog gets in a fight with one.

Will a Raccoon Kill My Dog?

Raccoons can move from that adorable to hostile and aggressive in a heartbeat. When they feel threatened – especially those with kids to protect – their attacks can be devastating even to humans. But how about we stop selling our dogs so short?

After all, our dogs’ canines and claws aren’t there to only fetch a ball.

Yes, we’ve gone on and on about how ferocious raccoons are, that it may seem like raccoons aren’t more likely to get killed by a dog. If anything, raccoons should be protected from being torn apart by an angry dog.

If you have a big dog, you should be worried about having a dead raccoon in your yard than the raccoon killing your dog. Even a small dog has a pretty good chance against a raccoon.

However, there are several cases of raccoons killing dogs, both large and small dogs. If your dog is in a fight with a raccoon near a pool of water, the raccoon could drown him. Raccoons are more confident than dogs in the water and would easily win in a fight in the water.

Also, since raccoons are relatively smaller and faster than most dog breeds, they can easily secure more bites and scratches on your dog. If your dog gets bitten by a raccoon multiple times, he could bleed to death.

That said, even if your dog can kill a raccoon, the risk of bites and scratches from a rabies-infected raccoon is devasting. Rabies can kill your dog in days.

What to Do If Your Dog Attacks a Raccoon?

Raccoons aren’t helpless as a lot of people tend to think. They just have a good PR through cartoons and movies. Also, they aren’t only about searching for food in your bin; they’ll also attack your dog if they feel threatened or simply because they can get the upper hand.

So, a raccoon can attack your dog first. But if your dog attacks first, try deescalating that attack as safely as possible. Try using vocal commands to draw their attention.

You can try shouting “NO” in their direction while approaching them. But don’t get in their middle or try to attack or capture the raccoon. If your dog is bitten or has been bitten by the raccoon, ensure to get him a rabies booster shot in five days. The sooner you do this, the better.

Can dogs get sick from raccoons?
Photo by Ryan Stone on Unsplash

Do All Raccoons Have Rabies?

Any warm-blooded animal can contract or carry rabies, but raccoons are major carriers in North America. That doesn’t mean that all raccoons you see have rabies. But since the only way to know for sure is through a test, it’s best to assume that they all do.

Final Thoughts

Rabies can make dogs eat things they normally wouldn’t and behave unusually, and in a couple of days, they could die due to severe seizures. Raccoons are proud rabies carriers. Unfortunately, many raccoons live on what they can get from our bins, especially if you live close to a thicket.

So, the chances of our dogs encountering one is high. Whether your dog bites or is bitten by a raccoon, he’ll most likely get rabies. So, the best move is to follow the tips in this article on what to do if your dog gets bitten by a raccoon and what to do if you happen to catch them fighting.   

Help us grow. Share this post.

Similar Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *