Dogs are predators and because of this many of them have a tendency to chase other animals, including squirrels. Some dogs only take fun in the chase, with no intent of eating their prey. However, some dogs will catch an animal, such as a squirrel, and then eat it. This is natural canine behavior.
It is possible for dogs to become infected with rabies from a squirrel bite, though this is rare. What about eating the squirrel? Is there any danger to my dog’s health?
Can a Dog Get Sick from Eating a Squirrel?
The good news is that in most cases, your dog should be just fine. He may have an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting. Otherwise, the squirrel will pass through your dog’s system without a problem. This is usually the case when the dog catches and eats the squirrel right away.
Having said that, there are some instances where a dog can get sick from eating a dead squirrel. If the squirrel has been dead for some time, then it could have parasites and other organisms. These could really make your dog sick.
A dead squirrel could be infected with parasites such as roundworms and coccidia. With roundworms, they take in all the nutrients your dog eats, making your dog malnourished and lead to further medical issues. Symptoms of roundworm infection can include:
- Abdominal swelling
- Loss of appetite
- Coughing (means the larvae have entered the lungs)
Coccidia can cause some medical issues, but is most dangerous in dogs with immunosuppression, which can lead to other medical conditions. Symptoms of this type of parasite infestation include:
- Diarrhea (may include blood and mucus)
- Loss of appetite
There’s one more way a dead squirrel can be dangerous if eaten by a dog. That is if the squirrel was poisoned. While it’s illegal in most places to poison squirrels, some people still use this method to rid their yards of these animals. If a dog eats a squirrel that was poisoned, the toxin will also enter his system and can make him very sick, or even lead to death.
What to Do If Your Dog’s Eaten a Squirrel
If your fur baby has chased and eaten the squirrel on his own, he will more than likely be OK. However, it’s a good idea to monitor his health over the next 2-4 weeks and watch for any signs or symptoms that could indicate he’s not feeling well. If so, then call the vet right away for an appointment.
If the squirrel was dead, then it’s best to wrap the dead squirrel carefully, and call the vet. Let the vet know what’s happened and they will probably ask you to bring in the squirrel to be tested for parasites and other types of infections.
The vet may also check your dog over but may not find any issues right away. In that case, they will ask you to monitor your dog’s health. If you see any signs your canine companion’s not feeling well, then the vet will want you to call them right away. The best prognosis comes with early diagnosis and treatment!
The best way to avoid these types of issues is to train your dog not to chase and kill squirrels. And on walks, be aware of what your dog’s nosing and stop him from eating any dead animals. That way, you’ll have a healthy, happy dog!
JulieJulie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.
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