Can A Dog Get Sick From Eating A Dead Squirrel?

can a dog get sick from eating a dead squirrel

Dogs have keen senses, and this makes them curious to explore their surroundings, which allows them to eat things they shouldn’t, including dead squirrels. So while it’s unlikely your dog will get sick from eating a dead animal, it’s essential to understand the risks your dog faces. 

A dead squirrel can contain parasites and harmful bacteria that can be dangerous to your dog if ingested. In addition, rodents carry diseases such as; plague, tularemia, etc., that remain active in their body after death. A dog’s stomach differs from ours, which allows them to eat poop, dirt, and even some dead animals without issues. Therefore, eating a dead squirrel may pose some health issues if done regularly. 

As a dog owner, you must be vigilant and take steps to prevent your pet from eating dead animals on the ground. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to monitor Fido. This article will explain the diseases that plague dead squirrels, the signs and symptoms to watch for, and prevention tips to keep your dog safe. 

Diseases That Affect Squirrels


Leptospirosis is a zoonotic bacterial disease that squirrels carry in their urine. It can be transmitted to dogs, animals, and humans through contaminated surfaces such as; wet soil, water, and water. 

This disease is more common in areas with warm climates and high rainfall amounts. However, it can occur anywhere. 

Dogs are more susceptible to this disease because they drink from rivers and streams and come into contact with backyard rodents or farm animals. 

Symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs can vary depending on the exposure limit. Dogs with mild exposure may not have any symptoms and do not require any medical treatment. 

Dogs with extreme exposure may develop symptoms such as; muscle tenderness, convulsions, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, jaundice, and death. 

Treatment typically involves aggressive antibiotics and the administration of fluids.


Salmonellosis is a zoonotic disease that affects chickens, birds, rodents, and other animals. It is found in the animal’s droppings and can be transmitted to animals and humans. 

It can cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms in dogs, including vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. 

Treatment for dogs and cats typically involves antibiotics such as; amoxicillin, chloramphenicol, and trimethoprim-sulfonamide. 


Tularemia is a bacterial disease that is commonly called “rabbit fever.” While rare, it affects squirrels, rabbits, rodents, and hares. It is transmittable to animals and people. 

Dogs are susceptible to contracting the disease from eating raw meat from infected animals or drinking contaminated water. 

Symptoms of tularemia in dogs include diarrhea, coughing, lesions, and increased respiratory rate. 

Early treatment is essential to minimize fatality. Treatment for dogs and cats typically involves antibiotics such as tetracyclines and gentamicin at recommended dosages to prevent relapse. 

Will My Dog Get Sick From Eating A Dead Squirrel?

When your dog eats a dead squirrel, there is a risk of contracting various diseases. Whether your dog gets sick depends on how much of the squirrel it consumed and if it was infected with diseases. 

Rodenticide poisoning can occur if the squirrel ingested poison before your dog ate it. 

Dogs are susceptible to rodenticide poisoning. Symptoms include bleeding, vomiting, bruising, bloody urine, coughing, and loss of appetite. 

How To Keep Your Dog Safe

Keep Your Yard Free of Carcasses

There’s not much you can do about dead animals in public areas. However, you can keep your dog safe in your backyard. Dispose of dead squirrels or carcasses quickly and responsibly, so your dog won’t be encouraged to eat them. 

Keeping Dogs on a Leash

Keeping your dog on a leash while walking in public areas is the best way to prevent them from eating things that can make them sick. In addition, a leash gives you more control over them and prevents them from wandering off and getting into trouble. 

Use a sturdy leash appropriate for your dog’s size and strength. If your dog is prone to pulling, consider using a no-pull harness to give you more control.


Keeping your dog up-to-date on vaccinations is another critical step in preventing them from getting sick. Vaccinations can protect your dog from many pet illnesses, such as distemper, rabies, etc. 

Vaccinations are essential for dogs of all ages, especially young puppies. Their immune system is not fully developed, and they are at a higher risk of becoming ill. 

Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian and keep your dog’s vaccinations current. 

This will help ensure your dog stays healthy and protected from preventable illnesses.

Why Do Dogs Like Dead Animals?

Dogs are attracted to dead animals and things that stink for several reasons. 

  • To Mask Their Own Scent: Dogs have a “scent rolling” behavior that makes them roll around on stinky stuff like poop. This behavior is inherited from their wolf ancestors. 
  • Curiosity: Dogs are naturally curious animals and may investigate the smell of a dead animal out of curiosity.
  • Instinct: Dogs have an instinctual drive to hunt and scavenge for food. If your dog eats poop, dead animals, sticks, etc., it could be because they are not getting the proper nutrients, anxiety, etc. 

While it may seem gross or unsanitary, this behavior is normal for dogs. 

However, watching your dog if they come into contact with a dead animal is essential, as there are potential health risks to consider.

Dead animals can be contaminated with bacteria, parasites, or toxins, which can cause severe harm to your dog. 

If you suspect your dog has ingested something harmful, contact your veterinarian immediately.

What to Do If Your Dog Gets Sick

If your dog has eaten a dead squirrel, it is vital to watch them for any signs of sickness. Some symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, and fever. 

If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. You may need to take a sample of the carcass with you, so the doctor will know what to look for and the best treatment option. 

Depending on the severity of the sickness, your dog may require medication or even hospitalization. 

If your dog overcomes the issues, follow the veterinarian’s instructions for treatment and at-home care carefully. Monitor your pooch closely throughout the recovery process. 

In the future, use the preventative measures above to keep your dog safe from eating dead animals or other potential hazards. 

Final Word

A dog’s digestive system differs from ours, which makes it easy for them to eat dead animals, poop, and other things we can’t fathom. Most dogs will be OK if they eat a dead squirrel, depending on how long the carcass has been on the ground. 

If the carcass smells like death, it may be contaminated, and your dog may get sick. 

Prevention is the key to keeping your dog safe. Keep an eye on your dog when they are outside, and teach them the “leave it” command. Also, keep your yard clear of potential hazards like dead animals. 

By taking these steps, your dog won’t be able to eat dead squirrels or other potential hazards. 

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