If your dog managed to catch, kill, and eat a squirrel, you may be worried about what effects ingesting this wild animal could have. It’s natural to be concerned if your dog ate a squirrel, especially if it was already dead when your dog found it.
Dogs are predators, and scavenging for meat sources like squirrels or other small animals is in their instincts. But eating squirrels has health risks you need to be aware of. Squirrels can transmit bacterial infections, parasites like roundworm, or diseases like rabies, and dogs can get Lyme disease from eating them.
Puncture-like squirrel bites and scratches can also cause wounds that become infected. Also, another worry with a dead squirrel is the possibility the squirrel was poisoned so that it could be fatal. While satisfying your dog’s primal instincts, consuming squirrels is not without danger.
You can take steps to prevent your dog from eating wild squirrels, such as fencing your yard, training your dog to “leave it,” and keeping them leashed on walks. But if it’s too late and your dog already ate a dead squirrel, monitor them closely for any symptoms of illness and take your dog to the vet to get it tested. With prompt treatment, most dogs recover fully after eating squirrels, but it’s best to avoid the risk as illness from a squirrel can be dangerous.
In our guide, you can learn more about spotting your dog has eaten a dead squirrel, thus making your dog ill or your dog to get sick. By the end, you’ll better understand parasites that your dog could contract and ensure your dog understands to leave dead animals alone. (Read Is Possum Poop Toxic To Dogs)
Why Do Dogs Eat Squirrels and Other Dead Animals?
Many dog owners are horrified to find their pet nibbling on a dead squirrel or other animal. The chances of your dog doing this are high as dogs are natural predators, and most dog breeds scavenge for meat.
Small animals like squirrels, rats, and chipmunks are tasty snacks that give dogs protein and nutrients your dog craves. Dogs like dead animals and don’t understand a dead animal could make the dog sick. Their instincts tell them to take advantage of any meat source, and eating a live squirrel fits nicely.
Your dog may be prone to catching and killing squirrels when they get the chance. Fast, athletic breeds like terriers were bred to hunt vermin. So, preventing your dog from eating dead animals is the best way to prevent illness.
Can Dogs Get Sick From Eating Dead Squirrels?
While roaming, you never know what your dog is chewing on, no matter how much you keep an eye on your dog.
- Bacterial infections: Bacteria multiply quickly in dead carcasses. Eating decaying flesh can give dogs food poisoning or cause gastroenteritis.
- Parasites: Fleas, ticks, worms, and other parasites thrive on squirrels. Eating a squirrel could expose your dog to nasty internal parasites.
- Diseases: Squirrels can carry rabies, Lyme disease, leptospirosis, and other dangerous infectious diseases. These can be passed to dogs through bites or eating infected meat.
- Injury: Squirrel teeth and claws are sharp. A live squirrel may bite or scratch your dog during a struggle.
- Toxins: Some people poison squirrels with rat bait or other chemicals. Eating a poisoned squirrel carcass can be fatal to dogs.
While eating dead squirrels may satisfy your dog’s primal instincts, it comes with health risks you need to be aware of. (Read Can Ducks Have Cantaloupe)
How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Squirrels
To keep your dog safe, it’s best to prevent them from eating squirrels and other wildlife when possible. Here are some tips:
- Keep your dog leashed on walks to avoid squirrel chasing. Don’t let him roam unsupervised.
- Fence in your yard if squirrels get in so your dog can’t access them.
- Use periodic flea/tick prevention to reduce the parasite load if your dog does ingest squirrel meat.
- If your dog kills a squirrel, immediately remove and discard the carcass so he can’t eat it.
- Teach your dog a strong “leave it” command so you can stop him from eating a dead squirrel he finds.
With training and management, you can prevent your dog getting sick from eating a dead squirrel. But if your dog already ate a dead squirrel, don’t panic. Just monitor him closely for bacterial infections from the squirrel over the next few days, or they at a squirrel that was poisoned.
What Should I Do If My Dog Ate a Dead Squirrel?
If you couldn’t stop your dog from eating a dead squirrel, he found, take these steps:
- Check your dog for any bite marks or wounds from a live squirrel he killed. Clean any injuries immediately to prevent infection.
- Monitor your dog for vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, or other concerning symptoms over the next 48 hours.
- Have your vet test your dog for internal parasites to look for worms or protozoa from ingesting squirrel meat.
- Ask your vet to prescribe a broad-spectrum dewormer to eliminate parasites the squirrel may have transmitted.
- If the squirrel was roadkill, have your dog examined for broken teeth, puncture wounds, or obstruction from bones.
- Get your dog on flea/tick prevention, as squirrels can harbor these parasites. Check your dog closely for any embedded ticks that could transmit Lyme disease.
- Monitor your dog for 6 months for symptoms of rabies and have your vet examine any skin wounds or behavior changes.
- Keep your dog away from dead carcasses in the future to prevent repeat scavenging.
With prompt treatment for any resulting parasites, wounds, or illnesses, your dog can recover fully from eating a dead squirrel. (Read Can You Feed Pigs Dog Food)
What Diseases or Parasites Can Dogs Get From Eating Squirrels?
There are a few key health risks dogs face from ingesting squirrels. Here are some specific diseases and parasites transmission is possible:
Rabies is one of the most dangerous diseases squirrels can potentially transmit. The rabies virus is shed in squirrel saliva, so a bite from a rabid squirrel can infect dogs. If your dog killed the squirrel, rabies is less likely since the infected animal usually acts abnormal and aggressive when terminally ill from rabies. Death usually occurs within 10 days once these clinical signs appear.
Alert your vet immediately if your dog shows unusual behavioral or neurological issues after eating or killing a squirrel.
Ticks thriving on squirrels can transmit Lyme disease. If your dog ate an infected squirrel or was covered in ticks after killing it, Lyme risk is higher. Symptoms can be fever, they limp or are lethargic and suffer from swollen joints. Lyme disease in dogs can be treated successfully with a 4-week course of antibiotics if caught early.
Leptospirosis bacteria shed in squirrel urine can infect dogs eating contaminated meat. It often causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or kidney and liver failure. Prompt treatment with IV fluids, antibiotics, and supportive care is needed to recover.
Worms and Parasites
Squirrels host a variety of parasitic worms and protozoa that can infest dogs eating the meat. Roundworms, coccidia, giardia, and toxoplasmosis are examples of parasites dogs can pick up this way.
Check the symptoms for diarrhea, vomiting, excessive weight loss, Luckily, your vet can prescribe a dewormer to give your dog to kill the parasites.
What Should I Look For If My Dog Gets Sick After Eating a Squirrel?
It may take days or weeks for symptoms to develop after your dog eats a diseased or parasite-infested squirrel carcass. Here are some key signs of illness to watch for:
- Dog vomiting, diarrhea, specks in dog poop
- Fever, lethargy, weakness
- Swollen lymph nodes, joints, or abdomen
- Neurological issues like seizures, paralysis, or abnormal behavior
- Skin wounds, blisters, or rashes
- Jaundice (yellow gums/skin)
- Coughing, difficulty breathing
- Weight loss, anemia, dehydration
If you notice your dog has any of these symptoms, don’t wait. Contact your vet promptly if your dog shows any symptoms if the squirrel was dead already. But it’s always best to try and prevent this risky behavior if the dog can become sick from the disease found in squirrel feces or the squirrel died before your dog would have played with it. (Read Can Deer Eat Dog Food)
Is It Possible My Dog Only Gets Mildly Sick from Eating Squirrels?
Yes, your dog may get sick, yet only experience minor illness after eating a squirrel or other dead animal. Some dogs seem to have an ironclad stomach.
Signs of mild sickness include:
- Nausea or reduced appetite for 1-2 days
- Softer stools or mild diarrhea for a day or two
- Increased drinking for a day or two
- Low energy level for a day after eating the dead animal
These mild signs often resolve independently as your dog’s stomach deals with decomposing meat and bones. But if symptoms persist over 2-3 days or worsen, take your dog to the vet to get tested for any infection requiring treatment.
How to Clean Up and Dispose of a Dead Squirrel Safely
If your dog caught a squirrel and brings home the dead squirrel, you’ll need to properly dispose of the carcass so other pets or wildlife don’t eat it. Here are some tips:
- Wear thick gloves to avoid contact with blood, parasites, or bodily fluids.
- Place the dead squirrel in a plastic bag, then seal it in a second bag. Double bagging contains odors and prevents leakage.
- You can bury small animal carcasses at least 3 feet deep in your yard or woodlands. Make sure pets and scavengers can’t dig it up.
- Alternatively, wrap the dead squirrel and place them in sealed bags in your outdoor trash can for waste disposal pickup. Many municipalities allow bagged dead animals as long as the carcass is thoroughly contained.
- Disinfect any surfaces or grass the squirrel touched using diluted bleach to kill germs and parasites.
- After handling, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water, as the dead squirrel can contain diseases.
While your dog may have satisfied his primal instincts to chase and kill squirrels, squirrels carry parasites and diseases and can injure dogs from bites. So, watch for any concerning symptoms in the days and weeks after exposure, like vomiting, lethargy, or wounds, or they get sick from killing a squirrel.
Promptly contact your vet if you notice anything abnormal after your dog ate or your dog licked a dead squirrel. With rapid diagnosis and treatment, most dogs fully recover without lasting effects.
In the future, take preventative steps like leashing your dog, fencing your yard, training them to leave carcasses if they found a dead squirrel, and disposing of dead animals they find. Staying alert and taking action can help keep your pet safe if he indulges his natural desire to hunt and eat squirrels.
Can my dog get rabies from eating a dead squirrel?
Yes, dogs can contract rabies if they eat or mouth a dead squirrel infected with the virus. Any squirrel acting aggressively before it died may have been shedding rabies virus in its saliva. Monitor your dog closely for any abnormal behavior changes for 6 months after exposure, and contact your vet immediately if symptoms develop. Rabies is ultimately fatal if left untreated.
How soon would my dog get sick after eating a squirrel?
It can take anywhere from 2 hours to 2 weeks for symptoms to develop after your dog eats a diseased squirrel. Vomiting or diarrhea within a few hours indicates simple food poisoning. But serious illnesses like rabies, Lyme disease, or parasites may take days or weeks before distinct symptoms appear. Monitor your dog closely for at least 6 months post-exposure.
Can my small-breed dog catch diseases from squirrels?
Yes, small and toy-breed dogs are still at risk for acquiring diseases like rabies, parasites, or toxoplasmosis when ingesting squirrels. Their small size doesn’t protect them. A minor illness can quickly make a small dog very sick. Take the same precautions with your petite pooch after squirrel exposure.
What home remedy helps settle a dog’s stomach after eating a dead animal?
If your dog experiences nausea or an upset stomach after eating a squirrel, try giving him 2-4 teaspoons of plain canned pumpkin. Pumpkin is a gentle food that can soothe mild gastrointestinal upsets. You can also temporarily feed your dog a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice until his stomach settles. Avoid rich foods for a few days.