Look at those big chompers! If you find your dog was bitten by a raccoon, you should be at least a little concerned.
Dogs and raccoons typically don’t get along very well. In most cases, the bite will be bad for your dog, but this is not always the case.
What happens if a dog gets bit by a raccoon can depend on the place and extent of the bite. Your dog’s vaccination history and the raccoon’s history can also come into play.
Here are a few things that can happen after a raccoon bites your dog:
Ideally, nothing would happen other than a small bite mark. If your dog is up to date with rabies and other vaccinations, you shouldn’t have much to worry about. You can check the area around the bite to make sure it looks okay.
In the best case scenario where your dog is in good health and the raccoon didn’t bite too hard, you might not need to do anything. However, this is not the outcome that you should expect.
It is always to be extra careful in these circumstances, as the raccoon might have rabies or another infection. If the bite is deep with many areas that break the skin, any carried infection could get to your dog.
Your dog can get rabies from a variety of animal bites, including raccoons. If you haven’t kept up with annual rabies vaccinations, your dog will be at a higher risk of getting it. While the raccoon may not have rabies, there’s no way to be sure.
Even if the raccoon doesn’t have rabies, it may have another infection that can harm your dog. You might notice a small rash around the bite area, but your dog may also have more severe symptoms.
It can be hard to tell what type of infection can come from a raccoon bite. But if you take good care of your dog and take them to the vet after the bite, you can reduce the effects of an infection.
Raccoons can spread a variety of diseases, so you may want to take your dog to the vet after a bite. Here are a few diseases you should look out for.
If you want to keep your dog in good health, you should get a rabies booster each year. Without a vaccine, your dog could contract the rabies virus from a raccoon or other wild animal bite.
If your dog gets rabies, they could spread it to other dogs or pets in your house. Rabies almost always leads to death, and once it is contracted there’s no cure.
If you notice your dog was bit by a raccoon, you should always consider rabies as a distinct possibility. Your dog may need a booster vaccine to protect against rabies.
While not as common as rabies, a raccoon can give your dog coonhound paralysis. This rare disease is progressive and happens a week or two after a raccoon bites your dog.
The disease can affect any dog breed, and it can be severe. It works similarly to Guillain-Barre syndrome in people because coonhound paralysis attacks the coating on the nerves.
Many dogs can recover from this paralysis, but it can take months for some dogs to get their strength back. Like with rabies, this disease will need treatment from a vet.
If your dog was merely bitten by a raccoon, that would not be able to cause leptospirosis. However, raccoon urine can contain this bacteria. So if your dog has been sniffing around the area and touches or ingests raccoon urine, they could contract this disease.
Signs of leptospirosis are different for every dog. Some may have no symptoms, while others will become severely sick.
Symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs include:
- Muscle tenderness
- Increased thirst
- Reluctance to move
- Inflammation of the eyes
- Bleeding disorders
After a raccoon bite, you should monitor your dog. Don’t let them go outside by themselves and watch what they drink or explore. Keep your dog away from water sources since that can also contain the bacteria if raccoons are around.
Another disease your dog can get after interacting with a raccoon is raccoon roundworm. Just like leptospirosis, It doesn’t take a raccoon bite for dogs to get this parasite as it can contract it just by eating raccoon feces.
Raccoon feces may contain roundworm larvae, and once the larvae hatch, they can survive in various conditions and can attack your dog’s organs and cause severe or life-threatening illnesses.
It can take about a week for your dog to have symptoms such as stomach swelling, abnormal bowel movements and coughing, but it can quickly become an emergency.
If you find that your dog was bit by a raccoon, you need to know how to treat the bite. Treating a raccoon bite doesn’t involve a ton of steps, but what you do can affect your dog’s health and wellbeing.
If you find your dog fighting with a raccoon, you should get your dog out of there. You can use a leash or another type of restraint to hold your dog. Either way, you want to get them far away from the raccoon so that the raccoon can’t bite your dog more.
You should then take your dog back to your house where they can be comfortable. You’ll also need a good space where you can look at your dog and make sure they’re okay.
Once you get your dog to safety, you should clean and inspect the bite and the surrounding area. Determine how big or deep the bite is and if your dog may need stitches. If the wound is more serious, your dog will likely need stitches to help the wound heal.
You can apply some dressing if there’s a lot of blood, but you should let the wound air out. Disinfect the area with Betadine or another povidone iodine solution. You may use Bactine although Betadine would be a better option. Following that, take your dog to the vet for a proper examination.
Even if your dog doesn’t need immediate medical care, you should still visit the vet. You may be able to wait a day, but don’t put it off too long.
Tell the vet what happened, and verify your dog’s rabies vaccine history. Then, your vet can discuss your options for helping your dog to avoid or treat potential complications.
After you visit the vet, they might give your dog a vaccine booster for rabies. Your dog might also get some medication to treat the wound.
Make sure you follow the vet’s instructions to help your dog. In this way, you can give your dog the best chance of healing and getting back to normal as quickly as possible.
When your dog is bitten by a raccoon, it is something that should be taken seriously. Raccoons are wild animals that are prone to carrying many different diseases, the most serious of which may be rabies.
As rabies is 100% fatal once it sets in, you need to take appropriate steps to make sure that possibility is extinguished. You can do this by keeping your dog up to date with rabies vaccinations and boosters every year.
Dogs may also be in danger of contracting other diseases from a raccoon bite such as leptospirosis, coonhound paralysis and roundworms. If the wound is deep, it is vitally important to clean the area and then to take your dog to the vet for it to be examined.
While a raccoon bite can be serious, if all these steps are taken, your dog will likely be just fine!
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.