When you stay in a neighborhood with a lot of vegetation, you’ve undoubtedly seen a few wild creatures, like possums, prowling around your yard. These nocturnal creatures venture out in the evening looking for shelter and food, and if you have got a dog that spends a lot of time outside, it may pursue these little animals.
Possums are generally peaceful animals who will not attack unless provoked. They are nocturnal, solitary creatures approximately the size of a house cat that is known to frequent regions where humans reside because of the abundance of food supplies, such as waste bins, pet food containers, compost, yards, and other similar areas.
This places them in the domain of numerous dogs and cats, perhaps resulting in a dog or catfight. It’s crucial to know if your dog is at risk if they kill a possum because it’s not unusual for dogs to fight backyard intruders like possums.
For various reasons, learning what to do if your dog kills a possum is critical. Therefore, follow the guidelines below whenever your dog catches and kills a possum.
Possums’ Reactions to Threats or Attacks
When faced with hostile action, a possum will either escape or react aggressively by baring its fangs or hissing. Playing dead is another option. This is an automatic response to a frightening circumstance, not something the possum chooses to do.
The possum’s brain is engaged, and glands secrete chemicals that cause its muscles to stiffen, giving the appearance of death. The goal is for the other animal to back off and depart since the possum appears to be a threat.
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What Diseases Can a Possum Cause in My Dog?
Possums may infect dogs; however, this is uncommon. Several of these diseases are deadly, so make sure your dog is up to date on all immunizations. A possum can infect your dog with the following diseases:
1. Chagas Disease
Possums may contain the one-celled parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes this illness. Losing weight, tiredness, and reduced appetite are all indicators of an infected dog. In more severe cases, you may also have vomiting, diarrhea, and fainting.
This is a potentially lethal bacterial infection. It damages a dog’s critical organs and produces symptoms including jaundice, muscular soreness, dehydration, lethargy, severe inflammation around the eyes, shaking, and fever.
3. Tuberculosis (TB)
Possums have the ability to infect dogs with tuberculosis, albeit this is quite improbable. Symptoms include coughing fits, temperature, nausea, and a loss of appetite.
This is a condition caused by parasitic worms, which possums can transmit. Trichomoniasis causes cysts to form in the muscles of dogs.
Coccidiosis is an infection of the digestive system caused by the parasite coccidia. This disorder can cause severe watery diarrhea, nausea, dehydration, and abdominal discomfort in weakened adult dogs and puppies.
Can a Possum Give My Dog Rabies?
Many dog owners are concerned about their dog contracting rabies from a possum they have killed or attacked. However, you will be happy to read that such an event is quite uncommon.
Possums are shy and secretive creatures. They are excellent at concealing and only engage with other animals with extreme caution. This significantly minimizes their risks of contracting and transmitting the disease.
However, it is reasonable that people are concerned about it. Your dog will require immediate care if he contracts rabies. If your dog becomes fully afflicted, you may be forced to put him down. Possums are also highly swift and agile, and their teeth are pretty vicious. On the other hand, a possum with full-blown rabies is a terrible proposition.
People fear sickness because of all of these real but improbable possibilities. The thought of a rabid animal stays out in our imaginations like a scenario from a bad horror movie. Rabid possums, on the other hand, are extremely uncommon.
In any case, if your dog eats a possum – or any other wild animal – you should inspect for wounds and take them to the veterinarian for booster immunizations. This is the most practical alternative.
When Your Dog Kills a Possum, What Should You Do?
Follow these measures should your dog kills a possum:
1. Keep Your Dog Away from the Possum
To limit the danger of illness:
- Keep your dog apart from the possum’s remains.
- Dispose of the deceased animal without touching it with your hands.
- Place it in a sealed garbage bin after wrapping it in plastic.
- If necessary, notify the local animal control to dispose of the carcass.
2. Call The Local Animal Control
The next step is to contact the animal control facility in your area. Animal control will guide you on appropriately managing the matter and where to obtain tests. Keep in mind that you will almost certainly have to pay for this test out of pocket, but the worth of your complete peace of mind cannot be overstated.
3. Check Your Dog Thoroughly
Examine your dog carefully to check whether it has any wounds. Wear gloves since your dog’s coat might contain potentially deadly viruses and germs. Wash your dog using hydrogen peroxide or warm water to decrease the chances of infection. Apply antibiotic ointment to wounds, paying special attention to the sides to enable the injury to drain more easily.
Take your dog to the veterinarian because you might have overlooked any little possum punctures or wounds.
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How to Treat Severe Possum Bites?
The throat, eyes, genital area, and stomach are the most deadly areas for a possum to bite a dog. Possums have strong teeth and a bunch of them. As a result, most bites may bleed profusely. However, a severe bite that does not bleed abundantly and goes undetected may also get infected due to the possum’s germ-ridden mouth and teeth.
If your dog has battled and killed a possum, it will almost certainly have bites on the face, paws, and neck. So first, check the neck and eyes. If you discover neck injuries, you might not even be able to prevent the bleeding without exerting excessive pressure on the area. The same might be said for the eyes.
If your dog’s belly wounds are more serious than a cut, they may require medical treatment. First, take it to an emergency animal care clinic wrapped in a blanket. If the internal organs protrude through the cut, cover them with a clean, warm, damp cloth while transporting them to the facility. Start by softly pressing the organs in. Then wrap a second towel over its torso to keep the first warm, moist towel in place during the journey.
What if Your Pet Isn’t Vaccinated?
The unpleasant truth is that if dogs have already been introduced to the rabies virus and haven’t ever received treatment, they will almost certainly have to be euthanized in order to protect people and other animals.
Non-vaccinated dogs might well be killed immediately after contracting rabies. There are no licensed biologics for unvaccinated animals after exposure.
If you do not want your dog to be euthanized, you will be requested to put him in isolation for up to 45 days because rabies symptoms take time to appear. Symptoms might appear in as little as a week or as long as a year, but the average period is between one and three months. At the time of quarantine, your veterinarian will also provide a rabies vaccine.
How to Keep Possums Away From Your Backyard?
Possums can be useful to your garden, contrary to common belief. Small bugs, slugs, snails, and sometimes even rodents have all been reported to be gobbled by them. Therefore, you shouldn’t be frightened until you notice them assaulting your dog. So, if a possum appears in your yard, leave it alone since it will ultimately go.
To keep possums away, ensure all trash can lids are securely fastened so no scent is drawn and waste is dragged out. Additionally, strive to maintain all pet food indoors or grab any food outdoors and bring it inside before going to bed.
Use nets, hay, or another fibrous material to plug any gaps. Using these items would enable any animal imprisoned within to escape via a passage, but outsider creatures will not be interested in disturbing the obstruction.
If you’ve successfully filled in the gap and haven’t heard anything for two to three nights, it’s reasonable to believe no critters are in the region anymore, and you may fill it in properly.
Ultimately, it’s worth noting that dog-possum battles are uncommon. Even rarer is the occurrence of canines becoming rabies due to a possum contact. There are animals far more deadly than a possum with whom your dog may come into contact.
If your dog has been involved in a fight, approach it with caution. Its heightened level of arousal and aggression may force it to bite you. First, examine the eyes and behavior. Then search for any wounds. Next, determine if it is shocked. The shock might be indicated by shaking and bewilderment. Take precautions such as vaccines and ways to keep undesirable animals out of your yard.
In most cases, if your dog kills a possum, you shouldn’t be concerned. Possums’ odds of transmitting diseases like rabies are so slim that, when paired with up-to-date vaccinations, your dog’s chances of catching this illness – or any other disease for that matter – are almost zero.
However, rabies is a serious disease, and it’s always best to be safe than sorry, so see your veterinarian if you’re ever in doubt.
Meet Madison Phillips, your compassionate guide to pet well-being. With experience from VCA Animal Hospitals and Laxton Vet Clinics Bellaire Inc. Madison honed her skills and embraced the balance of medical expertise and compassion, through her articles, she simplifies pet care, whether you’re a newbie or an experienced pet parent.