If you have pets and you discover that you have raccoons visiting your property, you’ll need to know if a raccoon can harm your furry friends.
Pets primarily come into contact with raccoons outdoors at night when the raccoons leave their dens to go foraging. However, in urban areas, raccoons are also seen out and about during daylight hours.
So, what dangers do raccoons pose to your pets?
Dogs versus raccoons
Despite their cute, cuddly appearance, raccoons are highly intelligent and cunning. Also, these wild creatures can be extremely vicious, especially when threatened. Equipped with sharp claws and teeth, raccoons can do a lot of damage to your family pet. Raccoons have a powerful bite, and they can attack with incredible ferocity and speed.
A raccoon will first attempt to scratch out the dog’s eyes to blind it. Then the unfortunate dog will be rolled onto its back, and the raccoon will try to eviscerate it.
The raccoon’s bite often penetrates the dog’s chest all, causing its lungs to collapse. If the dog’s abdomen is penetrated, septic peritonitis may result. In many reported cases, the dog’s urethra is torn open, allowing urine to accumulate beneath the skin, which can cause horrific scalding injuries and even kidney failure.
Why do raccoons attack dogs?
Raccoon attacks usually happen because the dog chases the raccoon or corners it.
However, there have been reports of raccoons deliberately engineering a confrontation with man’s best friend. That could be a territorial act because the raccoon regards the dog as a competitor for whatever food and den space are available in the area.
Do raccoons attack cats?
Raccoons and cats usually come into contact with each other at night. Both species have similar hunting behaviors, which can bring the two into conflict situations. Raccoons are generally much bigger and heavier than the average pet cat, and their weaponry is far superior. So, kitty doesn’t stand much chance if she is attacked by a raccoon.
Raccoons can and do eat small cats, mammals, and dogs. Kittens are especially at risk, as a wild raccoon will almost certainly view them as an easy meal.
What about poultry?
If you keep pet poultry, you must make sure that your chooks are safely inside a coop or shed at nights and that you provide a securely-fenced run for daytime use. Raccoons and foxes are both excellent diggers, so you’ll need to set fencing at least three feet into the ground to prevent these critters from getting to your hens.
Guinea pigs and rabbits
Hungry raccoons will view pet guinea pigs and rabbits as a meal. Keep small furries in a secure hutch at night, and make sure that you provide a robustly fenced run for daytime use.
What diseases do raccoons carry?
Raccoons are wild animals, and they do carry a range of diseases. The following conditions present a genuine danger to your pets, and they are also transmittable to humans.
- The most dangerous disease carried by raccoons is rabies. Even if the animal shows no symptoms, it may still be carrying the virus and could transmit the infection to your pet through a bite or scratch.
Rabies is almost always fatal, so you must ensure that your pets are vaccinated against the disease, especially if you have raccoons frequenting your property.
- Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) is a disease that’s often mistaken for rabies and is also carried by raccoons. Pet dogs are at a high risk of contracting CDV if bitten by a raccoon or eating contaminated food.
- If raccoons have established a latrine on your property, your pets are at risk of contracting roundworms if they come into contact with raccoon feces. Roundworms can also be transmitted to humans, so you or your family could be affected too.
- Raccoons carry blood-sucking parasites, including fleas, ticks, and lice, all of which could be transferred to your dog or cat. All these parasites can attack humans too.
A condition that can be contracted from contact with raccoons is Coonhound Paralysis. The disease affects dogs, rather than humans, and occurs when the dog comes into contact with raccoon saliva. Although not fatal, Coonhound Paralysis can cause severe stiffening of the dog’s body and limbs. There’s no treatment available for this disease, although the effects usually disappear within a few weeks.
How to prevent raccoon attacks on pets
The best way to prevent raccoons from coming into conflict with your pets is to keep your furry friends safely indoors at night. If that’s not possible, you should set up motion-activated spotlights outside your home that will scare away raccoons.
Also, do not leave pet food outside your home or on windowsills. The prospect of a free meal is guaranteed to attract opportunistic raccoons, potentially bringing them into direct conflict with your cat or dog.
Raccoons can present a very real danger to your family pets, either through physical attacks or by the transmission of parasites and diseases.
In Ontario, it’s illegal to kill, stress, or transport wild animals. Also, DIY raccoon deterrents are mostly ineffective in the long-term.
So, always contact a professional raccoon removal Hamilton company to get rid of the raccoons for you. These firms are fully licensed to carry out raccoon removal work, and their technicians are highly experienced and trained to safely and humanely remove the creatures.