Adding a New Puppy to Your Family

What to Do If Your Dog Is Bitten by a Wild Animal

by Arttu Kari

Dogs are often curious and playful, which are great qualities to have in a family pet. Unfortunately, their propensity to jump around and try to play with other animals can sometimes results in a nasty bite, especially when the object of their affection is a wild animal who was just trying to cross your yard. Here are some tips on handling the situation if your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal.

Call Animal Control Immediately for Mammals

While a bite from a lizard or snake won't result in rabies, a nip or scratch from any wild mammals could. It's normal to see squirrels during the day, but most mammals tend to stay hidden until dusk. If you see any of the most common rabies carriers (raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, or coyotes) out during the day and it approaches or attacks your dog, it's essential that you call animal control. They will come out and attempt to capture the animal so it can be tested for rabies. In the meantime, find your dog's rabies vaccination paperwork. In some states, your dog might need a rabies booster even if he or she has been vaccinated recently.

Seek Care Promptly

Any animal bite can become infected, and infections can spread quickly. It's important to get your dog to an animal hospital or your regular veterinarian. If the bite occurs in the evening or on a weekend, call your local emergency vet clinic to find out if treatment can wait until the next business day, when your vet is back in the office. You might be advised to bring your dog in right away, or you might be able to administer first aid at home.

Prevent Licking

Your dog will naturally want to lick the area where he or she was bitten. This is okay if the urge passes quickly, but some dogs will continue to lick, especially if they need stitches or if an ointment is applied. Talk to your vet about using an Elizabethan collar (often called a cone) to eliminate or reduce your dog's access to the wound. This can prevent further injury and infection.

It can be very stressful if your dog is bitten by a wild animal, but by taking steps to keep your dog safe from rabies and prevent infection, your pooch will be well on his or her way to complete healing from the injury.