Should I Be Worried if My Dog Killed a Possum? (Quick Facts)


Should I Be Worried if My Dog Killed a Possum

If you live in an area that has a lot of greenery, chances are that you have probably come across a few wild animals roaming your yard, including possums. These furry critters are nocturnal, and typically set out at night in search of food and shelter, and if you have a dog that frequently spends time outdoors, he/she might hunt these little animals.

If your dog killed a possum, you shouldn’t be too worried. Possums rarely carry rabies, and if your pooch is up to date with vaccines, there is even less cause for worry. However, it is worth checking to see if your dog has any open wounds, which can get infected easily, and seek treatment as soon as possible if that is the case.

Are Possums Dangerous to Dogs?

While possums have an intimidating look with their razor-sharp teeth and long claws, they’re normally docile rather than dangerous. These marsupials will only bare their teeth when cornered or under attack. Therefore, if your dog doesn’t get too close to a possum, they are of no threat.

While possums generally tend to avoid confrontation, there have been cases of possums attacking dogs. However, this only happens when the possum is cornered and has no other choice but to attack. Even when in danger, possums are more likely to use another defense mechanism, which is to play dead.

What Diseases Can My Dog Get from a Possum?

Although it is rare, dogs can get diseases from possums. Some of these diseases can be fatal, so your pooch needs to be up to date on all of his/her vaccinations. Some conditions that your dog can contract from a possum include:

Chagas Disease

This disease is caused by a one-celled parasite known as Trypanosoma cruzi, which possums may carry. An infected dog will have symptoms such as weight loss, lethargy, and decreased appetite. In more severe cases, you may also notice vomiting, diarrhea, and fainting.

Leptospirosis

This is a bacterial condition that is often fatal. It causes damage to a dog’s vital organs, with symptoms such as jaundice, muscle pain, dehydration, lethargy, painful inflammation in the eye area, shivering, and fever.

Tuberculosis (TB)

Although highly unlikely to occur, possums can potentially infect dogs with TB. Symptoms may include labored coughing, fever, vomiting, and loss of appetite

Trichomoniasis

This is a condition that is caused by roundworms, which can be passed on by a possum. Trichomoniasis manifests as cysts that develop in the dog’s muscles.

Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is an intestinal tract infection that is caused by a parasite known as coccidia. In debilitated adult dogs and puppies, this condition may cause severe watery diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and abdominal stress.

Can My Dog Get Rabies from Killing a Possum?

The chances of your dog getting rabies from killing a possum are very slim. Possums have a low body temperature – the average body temperature of a possum is between 94 and 97 degrees – in comparison to other warm-blooded animals. Due to their low body temperature, it is difficult for pathogens such as those that cause rabies to survive in their bodies.

However, while it is extremely rare for a possum to have rabies, it isn’t unheard of. Therefore it is of utmost importance to ensure that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date.

What Happens if My Dog Bites a Possum?

If your dog bites a possum, the possum may go into a comatose state for around four hours as a result of shock. The possum’s body goes limp, and it starts to secrete green mucus from its anal glands. This is a biological response that is commonly referred to as “playing dead”. In some cases, the possum may fight back by scratching and biting the dog.

My Dog Killed a Baby Possum. Should I Be Worried?

If your dog kills a baby possum, check to see if he/she has been scratched or bitten. If you find any open wounds, make sure you treat them as soon as possible. If this is not the case, let your vet know anyway, just in case.

Is It Normal for a Dog to Kill a Possum?

Dogs are direct descendants of wolves, and while they are not vicious hunters like their counterparts, they still have that innate prey drive. This means that when your dog spots small animals such as squirrels, birds, rodents, rabbits, and indeed, possums, they will see them as prey, and are compelled to catch and kill them.

Prey drive varies in dog breeds, but breeds that were trained and/or bred to be hunting dogs generally have stronger prey drives. Some of the dog breeds that have strong prey drives include Afghan Hounds, Greyhounds, Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Irish Wolfhounds, and Alaskan Malamutes, to mention a few.

Therefore, if your four-legged friend occasionally kills small animals such as possums, it shouldn’t be a cause for worry, especially if he/she has a strong prey drive. That said if you notice your dog killing more animals than usual, or he/she starts to display more aggressive behavior, consult a dog behaviorist who can help to manage your dog’s prey drive.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Killed A Possum?

If your dog kills a possum, take the following steps:

Get Your Dog Away from the Possum

Get your dog away from the possum’s carcass to reduce the risk of infection. Dispose of the dead animal, taking care not to touch it with your bare hands. Wrap it in a plastic bag and throw it in a secured trash can. If need be, alert your local animal control to deal with the carcass.

Examine Your Dog Thoroughly

Check your dog thoroughly to see if he/she sustained any wounds. Make sure you wear gloves, as potentially harmful viruses and bacteria may be lingering on your dog’s coat. To reduce the risk of infection, wash your pooch with warm water or hydrogen peroxide. Apply an antibiotic ointment to wounds, taking care to apply around the sides to allow the wound to drain more freely.

Consider taking your dog to the vet as you may have missed some small punctures or wounds inflicted by the possum.

What Happens if My Dog Eats a Possum?

If your dog kills and eats a possum, and there is any chance that the possum had been poisoned before your pooch ate it,you must take him/her to a vet for an examination. If the possum wasn’t poisoned beforehand, your dog may experience vomiting, an upset stomach, and diarrhea.

Will a Possum Attack a Dog?

A possum is more likely to scamper away when it comes across a dog. If confronted, possums will bare their teeth, but this is merely for show. They might also play dead. However, if cornered, it might attack a dog with its long claws and sharp teeth.

What Does a Possum Bite Look Like on a Dog?

A possum has six incisor teeth; four on the upper jaw and two on the lower one. When it bites a dog, you might notice incisor tooth impressions with a notable “medial notch’ in the medial. Because a possum’s incisors are 4.5-7 mm wide, you might not notice the bite marks at all, especially if your dog has a thick coat. This is why it is important to see a vet if you suspect your dog has been bitten

Apossum Bit My Dog. What Should I Do?

If a possum bites your dog, clean the wound immediately with hydrogen peroxide, or antibacterial soap and warm water. The next course of action is to take him/her to the vet for examination and treatment. Your vet will medicate the wounds and prescribe the appropriate antibiotics or painkillers.

What Happens if a Dog Eats Possum Poop?

One of the more off-putting habits that many dogs develop is poo eating, otherwise known as coprophagia. It is quite common for dogs to eat poop, whether it’s another dog’s poop, cat poop, or the poop of herbivores such as possums.

Generally, dogs eating possum poop isn’t too concerning, unless the pooch starts to seek it out. If you’re worried about your pooch obsessively eating poop, visit your vet, as it may be an indication of underlying health problems such as diabetes, parasites, and Cushing’s disease.

If your dog keeps eating possum poop, you can deal with this by limiting the likelihood of your dog coming across it, by fencing in your yard to keep possums out, for example. This is worth considering as diseases such as salmonella and leptospirosis can be transmitted through coming in contact with a possum’s fecal matter.

If you have a possum poop problem, the best approach is to minimize disturbance of the feces to reduce the risk of spores and bacteria. If you want to remove possum feces from a confined area such as an attic, make sure you wear gloves, long-sleeved clothes, a breathing mask, and goggles to protect yourself. Once you collect the feces, put them in a tightly sealed bag, and dispose of them in a well-secured container.

How Do You Get a Possum Smell out of a Dog?

When a dog comes in contact with a possum, you may notice a lingering unpleasant odor on their coats. To get rid of this smell, you will need:

  • ¼ cup of baking soda
  • 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide solution
  • 1-2 teaspoons of your favorite mild dishwashing detergent.

Mix these ingredients in a metal bowl. Work the mixture into your dog’s coat, taking care to avoid the eyes. Leave it on for about five minutes, and then rinse it off with warm water. Finish by lathering your pup with a dog shampoo, rinse, and towel dry.

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