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My Dog Killed a Mouse, Will He Get Sick?

Updated on June 10, 2024
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Adrienne is a dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Mice can transmit several diseases to dogs
Mice can transmit several diseases to dogs | Source

Should You Be Concerned If Your Dog Killed a Mouse?

If your dog killed a mouse, you may be worried about your dog potentially being transmitted some infectious diseases or developing secondary poisoning if the mouse may have ingested some rat poison. You may also be concerned about your dog getting some parasites.

In this article, veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec, a practicing veterinarian in Bitola, Macedonia, shares several concerns and symptoms to watch for in the case of a dog killing or eating a dead mouse.

My Dog Killed A Mouse, Will He Get Sick?

A dog killing a mouse or eating a dead, rotting mouse carcass is a scary and gross scenario for every pet owner. In this article, we will talk about the dangers of dogs killing or eating mice and what to do if accidents occur.

Why Do Dogs Kill and Eat Mice?

Dogs kill and eat mice because of their natural hunting behavior and unusual attraction to pungent smells.

Chasing is a standard behavior for dogs, particularly intense in hunting, herding, and sporting dog breeds.

The chasing tendency is closely related to predatory behavior and is triggered by the sight or smell of small animals, like mice.

Additionally, dogs are curiously attracted to smells we find repulsive. A rotting mouse carcass is stenchy for us, but interesting to dogs, which increases the risk of disease transmission.

Hunting dogs are particularly attracted to scurrying critters
Hunting dogs are particularly attracted to scurrying critters | Source

What Are the Dangers of Dogs Killing and Eating Mice?

The dangers of dogs killing or eating mice range from stomach upset and secondary poisoning to parasitic and bacterial infections.

1. Gastrointestinal Distress

Gastrointestinal distress is the medical term for what is commonly known as stomach upset. Dogs that eat a mouse or a part of a mouse are likely to develop gastrointestinal distress.

The severity of the distress ranges from mild to severe. Telltale signs include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, lethargy, depression, and even fever.

Mild cases of stomach upset do not require veterinary attention and can be managed at home with fasting followed by a bland diet and quality probiotics.

However, more severe cases and dehydrated dogs must be treated by a vet. Intravenous fluids are essential to correct the dog’s hydration status.

2. Secondary Poisoning

Secondary poisoning occurs when a dog becomes intoxicated by eating a mouse that has been previously poisoned. The mouse can be alive or dead by the time the dog eats it.

The risk of secondary poisoning in pets is low, but considering the strong effects of rodenticides, it is worth mentioning.

Rodenticides act as anticoagulants, which, translated to common terms, means they stop blood clotting. Poisoned dogs start to bleed visibly from the nose and mouth or internally, in the chest, lungs, abdomen, or joints.

Poisoning with rodenticides is an emergency. Early decontamination includes vomiting induction and activated charcoal. The specific antidote is the long-term use of vitamin K1.

3. Intestinal Parasites (Roundworms)

Dogs can get intestinal parasites, mainly roundworms, by eating mice infected with roundworm larvae. Roundworms are a common threat for pets and require systematic prevention.

Roundworms are spaghetti-like worms that grow up to three to six inches in length and live in the dog’s intestines, where they feed on intestinal content. Therefore, roundworms literally rob the dog of essential nutrients.

Symptoms of roundworm infestation in dogs are weight loss, potbelly appearance, appetite loss, dull coat, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Deworming medications with active ingredients, such as pyrantel or fenbendazole, can treat and prevent roundworms in dogs.

4. Toxoplasmosis

Eating a mouse (and other rodents) that carry Toxoplasma gondii cysts in the muscles causes a protozoan parasitic condition in dogs called toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis in dogs manifests with a variety of symptoms including diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, pneumonia, liver disease, and neurological problems under the form of uncoordinated gait, seizures, and paralysis. Inflammation of different parts of the eyes is also frequent.

Common neurological issues include uncoordinated gait, seizures, and paralysis. Inflammation of different parts of the eyes is also frequent.

The treatment for toxoplasmosis is antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and symptom control. Most dogs are treated on an outpatient basis, but dogs with compromised immune systems require hospitalization.

5. Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is spread by mice, and a dog eating a mouse is at direct risk of contracting the highly transmissible and zoonotic bacterial disease.

Dogs infected with the Leptospira bacteria start exhibiting symptoms within a week, which vary from mild to severe. Sometimes, dogs can spontaneously recover.

Symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, weight loss, lethargy, fever, muscle pain or stiffness, jaundice, eye inflammation, coughing, blood in urine, oral ulcers, dehydration, and miscarriage in pregnant dogs.

The treatment for leptospirosis includes antibiotics, anti-vomiting medications, pain meds, liver supplements, and intravenous fluids. The vet will likely place a urinary catheter because, in the early treatment stages, the dog sheds the bacteria via its urine.

6. Salmonellosis

Many rodents, including mice, can carry and spread Salmonella. Dogs that kill or eat a mouse are at risk of developing Salmonellosis.

Salmonellosis in dogs can go asymptomatic. However, infection signs are expected in puppies and adult dogs with compromised immune systems.

Standard symptoms of salmonellosis in dogs include sudden, severe, watery diarrhea, tainted with blood, vomiting, reduced appetite, fever, lethargy, and dehydration.

The treatment for salmonellosis is based on antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and controlling the vomiting and diarrhea.

7. Botulism

Botulism is a rare disease in dogs caused by a toxin called botulinum, which is produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Dogs can get infected by eating dead animals, including mice.

The botulinum toxin attacks the nerves, causing weakness (paresis) at first and then a complete inability to move (paralysis). The symptoms begin at the hind limbs and spread to the front.

Botulism is potentially fatal because the spreading paralysis eventually affects the diaphragm and breathing muscles.

The treatment for botulism is symptomatic. The dog is hospitalized and taken constant, intense care. An antitoxin is available, but it is not effective once the dog becomes symptomatic.

Mouse poison often comes in bright colors such as green, blue or red for easy identification. If a dog ingested rat poison, it may show up as oddly colored stools.
Mouse poison often comes in bright colors such as green, blue or red for easy identification. If a dog ingested rat poison, it may show up as oddly colored stools. | Source

What Should I Do if My Dog Killed/Ate a Mouse?

If your dog killed or ate a mouse, it is important to remain calm and follow these steps.

Keep the Dog Away

Start by separating the dog from the dead mouse. If your dog is still around during the next steps, it will try to mess with the dead mice, increasing the risk of further ingestion. A good option is to place the dog in a crate or in the bathroom.

Dispose of the Mouse

Put on disposable gloves, pack the mouse in a bag, and throw it away in an outdoor can that is unreachable for other pets and children. If possible, use several plastic bags and one sealed to cover the stench. Do not dispose of the mouse in an indoor garbage bin, as the dog will once again be attracted to the smell.

Contact the Vet

Call the vet, explain what happened, and follow the vet’s guidelines. Based on the details you provide, the veterinarian will either instruct you to visit the office or monitor the dog at home. Important things to disclose with the vet include:

  • When the mouse-related accident happen
  • How much the dog managed to eat
  • The state of the mouse’s decomposition
  • Clinical signs the dog is exhibiting
  • The dog’s general health and age
  • If the mouse was exposed to toxins

Monitor the Dog

Keep a close eye on your dog and head to the vet’s office in case it starts exhibiting worrisome signs and symptoms. Red flags include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, fever, lethargy, and lack of coordination (ataxia).

Do not attempt to give the dog activated charcoal or induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by the vet.

Call an Exterminator

The presence of a visible mouse on the property indicates an underlying infestation. Discuss extermination options with a professional, and do not use traps or baits on your own, as they pose serious hazards for the dog.

Are Certain Mouse-Transmitted Diseases Dangerous for Owners?

Yes, certain mouse-transmitted diseases are dangerous to owners. People can get sick directly from mice or from dogs infected by mice.

Therefore, it is important to approach a mice infestation with responsibility and deal with the problem as soon as possible.

How Can I Prevent My Dog from Killing and Eating Mice?

No single method is foolproof in preventing your dog from killing or eating mice. However, there are several useful tips that can minimize the risk.

  • Training: Train your dog to listen to commands, especially the “leave it” command. The task is more challenging, especially in sporting breeds, such as Spaniels and Retrievers, who are naturally inclined to carry small prey in their mouths.

  • Leash Walking: Always keep your dog on a leash, particularly in unknown areas. If you cannot control the dog, use a standard (non-retractable) leash to give yourself time to identify potential hazards before the dog reaches them.

  • Basket Muzzles: Consider a basket muzzle if your dog is notoriously prone to picking up and eating carcasses. The basket muzzle is specifically designed to allow the dog to pant, drink, and even accept treats while inhibiting picking up things.

  • Area Checks: Before allowing the dog to roam freely in a safely fenced area, make a quick check to ensure there are no dead mice, remains, or excrement.

  • Vaccines and dewormers: Considering the chance of mice carrying various diseases and parasites, it is important to keep your dog up-to-date on vaccines and dewormers. The exact schedule should be discussed with the veterinarian and tailored to the dog’s age, lifestyle, and exposure risk.

  • Avoid Rat Baits: Do not use rat baits in your house, garage, or garden to eliminate the risk of secondary poisoning. If dealing with a mice infestation, talk to an exterminator to create a dog-friendly strategy.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2024 Adrienne Farricelli CPDT-KA, Dip.CBST


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